Verana Networks targets mmWave 5G opportunity with new funding

Start up wants to prove mmWave networks can scale at lower cost.

Verana Networks, a mmWave small cells start up, has announced Series B funding of $28 million, bringing its total funding to $43 million.

The company’s COO Amit Jain told TMN that it is developing an outdoor 5G small cell product with the aim of reducing the total cost of deployment of 5G mmWave.

Verana started product development about two years ago and the company currently has a system it can demo at its own location.

“We plan to take it out for customer trials later this year,” Jain said. And he set a target of having a commercially available product by Q2 2023.

As a systems developer, the company is working with “established chipset partners”, building hardware, licensing different pieces of software, to deliver a complete commercialised solution, Jain said.

Development might support deployment of RAN software in containerised environments, but Jain was not drawn on likely support for disaggregated or Open RAN architectures.

“We’re not disclosing all the details but we are taking an approach that is optimised for mmWave. If you look at mmWave, it’s very dense, based on the nature of mmWave propogation. We have looked at every aspect of cost, including large array antennas, power consumption, deployment, backhaul, using our background in systems design to ask how we bring down the cost of the entire system.”

Jain said that the Series B investment reflects a belief that demand for 5G data will explode in coming years, driven in the first instance by 5G being used for home broadband, and then by a succession of data-rich use cases.

As we looked at this space we saw that nobody was building a solution optimised for large scale mmWave deployments

“Midband spectrum is great to get things started but it is not enough to meet demand beyond a 2024, 2025 time frame. mmWave is crucial to meeting demand, and as we looked at this space we saw that nobody was building a solution optimised for large scale mmWave deployments.”

Of course, there are already several mmWave providers, from those basing solutions on Qualcomm’s small cell chips and RFFE, such as Airspan, to the major NEPs with mmWave radio units.

Often they are derivatives of a midband base station,” Jain said, “where [vendors] change the radio and call it a mmWave. Those solutions cost as much as midband but offer a fraction of the coverage. They have demonstrated that 5G can work in mmWave, but not that it can scale. So it’s a massive problem that needs to be solved.”

Verana was founded by, amongst others, CEO Vedat Eyuboglu, formerly CTO of small cells at Commscope after that company’s acquisition of Airvana, which he also co-founded. Sundar Sankaran, Vice President of Engineering, is also ex-Commscope, where he headed the Ruckus business, and before that was at Qualcomm Atheros. Jain, also a co-founder, Jwas formerly of small cells players Spidercloud (bought by Corning) and Airvana. The company currently has 75 employees, is headquartered in the USA, with a large development capability in India.