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Cisco Invests in 4G LTE Startup Altiostar

Dan Jones

Cisco has confirmed to Light Reading that it is an investor in the stealth startup Altiostar Networks Inc., which is working on a 4G LTE radio architecture that falls between small cells and the macro layer in size and scope.

"I can confirm that Cisco has invested in Altiostar Networks and that Kelly Ahuja is serving on Altiostar's board of directors," a Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO) spokesman confirmed to Light Reading Wednesday afternoon. He wouldn't give any further details.

Kelly Ahuja is senior vice president and general manager of Cisco's mobility business group and a big cog in the company's overall wireless plans. The Altiostar team is no stranger to the net, either. Founder and CEO Ashraf Dahod was the boss at Starent, which Cisco bought for $2.9 billion in 2009. Much of the rest of top-level team is drawn from the same well.

Light Reading has heard that at least one system Altiostar is working on is a spin on a Cloud RAN-type system to enable better coverage in cities and dense radio environments. (See C-RAN Blazes a Trail to True 4G.)

The Altiostar system appears to split the difference between what is classified today as public access small cells and the LTE macro network, with a layer of "microcells" acting in concert -- as synchronized and scheduled by the central brain -- and providing dense 4G coverage over a wide area. This would entail using smart radio nodes that are linked to a centralized controller, according to a source.

Altiostar isn't confirming any of this; the company hasn't yet had its grand unveiling. However, it is known that the company has pulled in at least $60 million of funding since its inception in 2011.

Some of that money seems to have already been spent on supporting carrier trials. As Light Reading reported earlier, Altiostar has recently been advertising for a service delivery manager to support lab and field trials in Mexico City. (See Altiostar Networks: Hola, LTE!)

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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Sarah Thomas
Sarah Thomas,
User Rank: Blogger
3/20/2014 | 12:33:39 PM
Re: Close to the RAN
But still not the coolest name at Cisco. That honor goes to Padmasree Warrior.
User Rank: Blogger
3/20/2014 | 12:33:14 PM
Altiostar C-RAN speculation
So I emailed Altiostar for a briefing again last night but nothing yet. They still seem to be trying to keep up the facade of being a stealth startup.

Anyhow, I was thinking about it. They have to be looking at the pain points of deploying this kind of distributed system. 

- How to make the deployment and management as easy as possible

- How to cut the costs of deployment 

- How to make it as scalable as possible


Let's speculate wildly on how this gets done. They're certainly not the only vendor thinking about this.
Steve Saunders
Steve Saunders,
User Rank: Blogger
3/20/2014 | 11:20:44 AM
Re: Close to the RAN
Kelly Ahuja! 


Always been a big fan of that name. 

User Rank: Blogger
3/19/2014 | 6:31:27 PM
Re: Close to the RAN
Yes, this might be used for applications like being the edge of the network in extremely high traffic situations.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/19/2014 | 6:17:06 PM
Re: Close to the RAN
As opposed to having the small cells augment the signal from the big towers?
User Rank: Blogger
3/19/2014 | 5:52:19 PM
Re: Close to the RAN
A small cell is a self contained unit, radio and controller in one. With this setup you deploy large numbers of radio nodes and have one central unit to manage them.
Mitch Wagner
Mitch Wagner,
User Rank: Lightning
3/19/2014 | 5:38:12 PM
Re: Close to the RAN
If I understand this correctly, Altiostar uses a network of many, many small cells to achieve the kind of coverage you usually need big cell towers to achieve? And this is different from conventional small cells because conventional small cells are used to extend big cell tower coverage?
User Rank: Blogger
3/19/2014 | 4:12:31 PM
Close to the RAN
Seems like Cisco is edging closer and closer to the RAN proper in a way, don't it?
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