Verana Networks, a mmWave small cells start-up that TMN covered last year, has announced details of a new trial with Verizon, and revealed for the first time that Verizon has been a strategic investor in the start-up.
Verana will be carrying out field trials of Verana’s mmWave small cells, deployed to support Integrated Access and Backhaul. The company told TMN that interest in its IAB mmWave small cells so far has mainly focussed around FWA use cases, although of course IAB is not a technology limited to FWA.
IAB is a 3GPP-defined architecture where the access from the cell to the user and the backhaul link from the cell to another cell site or aggregation point is carried within the same spectrum. It means that a small cell is both sending signal to a user’s phone and backhauling to another site using the same spectrum, necessitating it to contain both the RF functions of a base station and of a UE (phone or other receiving device). To work well, it alsoo requires a decent amount of spectrum, which is not a problem at mmWave bandwidths.
IAB is designed as a solution where fibre is limited. If you deploy a cluster of small cells, you don’t need to run fibre to all of them. Instead, you can get fibre to one or a limited number, and then the other cells can use IAB to form a mesh network, connecting to that site and to each other. Verana said that can increase the flexibility and speed of rollout.
Verana told TMN in emailed comments: “Verana is building a 5G RAN solution that is optimised for IAB. Our innovation lies in building a multi-hop IAB system that preserves network capacity, minimises latency, and maximises mmWave coverage. Among other things, we have built an IAB-optimized 5G small cell (the Verana Mesh Radio) that provides 360-degree horizontal coverage and not only implements, in software, the DU function, but also a 5G UE (as the wireless backhaul client).”
“Millimeter wave spectrum is abundant and inexpensive but providing 5G coverage using this spectrum is cost-prohibitive today,” said Vedat Eyuboglu, CEO, and co-founder of Verana Networks. “To transform the economics of mmWave 5G deployment, Verana is building a mmWave 5G RAN solution with integrated multi-hop wireless self-backhaul and several other innovations that optimise system cost, power consumption and performance. We are excited to work with Verizon to make this vision a reality.”
“Millimeter wave spectrum is the foundation of Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband service, providing faster speeds and massive bandwidth for streaming, gaming, and connecting – at home or at work,” said Bill Stone, VP of Technology and Planning at Verizon. “Verana’s multi-hop IAB solution promises to enhance our 5G network performance even more. We look forward to trialing it to enhance the reach of our 5G Ultra Wideband network.”
Verana ‘s solution is a vRAN deployment, and it also says that its cells are O-RAN compliant. The company has raised more than $43 million in venture capital in two funding rounds since its founding in early 2020.
A recent blog from the company said that FWA is going to be a key opportunity for operators with mmWave spectrum, and will be further enabled when devices come on the market that can operate only in mmWave, without requiring a sub6GHz anchor in NR-DC or EN-DC mode. That would mean operators could build a dedicated FWA network in mmWave bands, without tying that to the requirements of their mobile network. Internet service providers (ISPs) that do not have a mobile network could also now use mmWave 5G to expand their footprints. Verana said, “This is particularly attractive in countries like Germany where mmWave spectrum is available to anyone that is willing to use it for a reasonable fee.” Enterprises could also use mmWave spectrum for private networks, the blog said.
It said that India is likely to be te world’s largest FWA market, once it is up and running, with the US as a leader for the near term.
For the first time it confirmed (along with news of the network field trial) that Verizon’s corporate venture organisation, Verizon Ventures, is a strategic investor. Verizon invested in both previous rounds, Verana told TMN. Other investors include DC Investment Partners (DCIP), Spark Capital, BOLD Capital Partners, Aspiro Capital, Taiwania Capital and TDK Ventures.
Verana said it had, in 2021, secured $4.5 million in convertible debt financing from strategic investors including Lockheed Martin Ventures.
After some snooping around in spectrum licence applications last year, Light Reading revealed that the company was likely testing its tech with Verizon.