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Optical/IP

Mavenir Closes In on $20M

Service convergence platform startup Mavenir Systems Inc. is set to close a $20 million second investment round to help fund its dramatic early growth and meet the demands of its initial Tier 1 carrier engagements, Light Reading has learned.

The company, one of Light Reading's Top Ten New Startups, unveiled its multifunctional pre-IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) product, mOne, at the 3GSM show in Barcelona last week. It announced it is using hardware and software stacks from ATCA platform vendor Continuous Computing Corp. and outlined its progress to date. (See Top Ten New Startups, Mavenir Unveils MOne, and Continuous Shows Off.)

Mavenir says it can help carriers launch the new services that next generation architectures and devices, such as IMS and SIP phones, promise, but without having to invest in vast new networks. It does this by enabling any device to connect to any network, whether fixed or mobile, by incorporating functionality from the legacy telecom and new IP worlds into a single network element.

Mavenir's CEO Pardeep Kohli, the former CEO of Spatial Wireless, says the company has already organized trials with three Tier 1 carriers in North America and Europe and brokered partnerships with two major telecom equipment vendors. The company's headcount is now up to 100, including R&D staff in a development center in India. (See Mavenir Opens in India and Mavenir Names CEO.)

That's quite a pace for a company that announced its first round of funding in July 2006, when it was still in stealth mode. (See Mavenir Converges on $13M.)

Hence the need for more cash. While Kohli was reluctant to talk in detail about further financing, a new round of $20 million from existing investors Austin Ventures and North Bridge Venture Partners is believed to be nearly closed.

So what is it that has excited the interest of carriers and vendor partners alike? Kohli says the key ingredient is input from both sides of the telecom fence, as Mavenir's R&D team includes people with a traditional telecom background and folk who are steeped in Internet technology. "You need to know both sides -- you need IP [Internet protocol] and legacy experience."

The combination of legacy and IP has concocted a product that bridges, and simulates the characteristics of, legacy telecom infrastructure and newer IP-based technology. That means the mOne can sit in a network and, for example, connect a GSM handset and a SIP-based application server as if they were designed to communicate with each other.

"The big challenge is in the feature mapping," notes Kohli.

That feature mapping, though, means that, theoretically, carriers can use Mavenir's mOne to act as the intermediary between a legacy mobile core infrastructure (including OSS), and SIP handsets. Equally, it can act as the go-between for legacy devices, such as GSM handsets, and IMS elements, such as application servers. And those application servers could be deployed by a fixed or a mobile operator, opening up the possibility for fixed carriers to market their services, including video services, to mobile users.

The attraction in the latter example is that GSM carriers could roll out new services from newly-deployed application servers to their existing mobile subscriber base without the need to provide customers with a new handset.

That kind of dual functionality will also make the migration from legacy to next generation architectures a whole lot smoother, if the technology lives up to its promise.

Mavenir says it will announce its carrier and major equipment vendor engagements during the coming months.

— Ray Le Maistre, International News Editor, Light Reading

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