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4G/3G/WiFi

AXON emerges on fixed access scene with $27M in funding

There's a new kid on the fixed and mobile access network block – AXON Networks, a former Greenwave Systems business unit, officially launched today with $27 million in funding.

Rick Clemmer, former CEO of NXP Semiconductors, will be executive chairman of AXON's board and is also one of the key investors – AXON remains mum about the identity of additional investors contributing $27 million to the company.

AXON Networks says it delivers an AI-driven, analytics-based orchestration platform, the AXON AnyNet Orchestrator, in addition to high-speed routers utilizing the latest Wi-Fi technologies. CEO Martin Manniche, formerly founder and CEO of Greenwave Systems and CTO of Cisco's Linksys Consumer Business Group, says the AXON Orchestrator brings together fixed and mobile networks under a single virtual environment. AXON claims that, together with its analytics module, the AnyNet Orchestrator supports a self-healing network that results in the reduction of support calls and improved quality of experience.

"The analytics gives you insight into anomalies – what is unusual," says Manniche. "You don't care that 99% of the time, everything is great. What you care about are anomalies, an unusual behavior or failure. We have a simplified way to present that so the support people don't need to be super technical." In addition, Manniche adds that quality customer service includes helping customers prioritize which devices are most important on their home network for an improved Wi-Fi experience.

AXON's routers operate over DSL, fiber, and 4G and 5G networks via the company's vEDGE technology, and AXON is touting ease of install as one of its differentiators to competitors. Instead of requiring a truck roll from service providers, consumers can self-install routers via AXON's mobile app and have the option to deploy specific features such as parental controls. Routers include several security components such as a device security firewall, and data-in-motion security from Privafy. In addition, users can add security functions from third-party security vendors such as McAfee and Plume.

Glen Hunt, principal analyst with GlobalData, says the timing is right for AXON to emerge as a company. The software-defined fixed access market had trouble gaining traction a few years ago, says Hunt, as vendors were more focused on updating hardware components at the time.

"What I see from AXON is that they've really leveraged a lot of the open source community contributions and developed a cloud-native microservices-based platform that now can be adapted to these new services," says Hunt. "The technology cycle, on the software and hardware side, is coming together."

The fixed access market is now "poised for significant growth" from the availability of "newer software techniques and cost-effective hardware," says Hunt – a growth cycle which AXON could benefit from since it has developed its own cloud-native, microservices-based platform.

"They're in a highly competitive area which could be why they wanted to do this spinout – to focus solely on this [fixed network] area," explains Hunt.

In addition, AXON's executive team is built from senior leadership coming from Greenwave Systems, which provides AXON with a "level of experience you wouldn't typically find with a startup," adds Hunt. Prior to launching the company, AXON's leadership and development teams claim to have deployed over 200 million routers to customers, and AXON expects to ship over 10 million routers this year.

AXON has also brought over several customers from its parent company including Verizon and Lumen; additional customers include ISPs and service providers such as Frontier and KT Corporation that are providing AXON's routers to consumers and residential customers. Manniche says AXON's competitors include large networking companies focused on selling consumer services to operators such as Google, Amazon, Plume and Arrow.

The company currently has 80 employees worldwide and expects to grow to 100 by the end of the year.

— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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