As mobile network operators "densify" their networks, information about competitors' deployments in a given geography can be valuable. That's the premise driving venture capitalists to fund startup Aurora Insight, which creates dynamic maps to show how spectrum is being used in a given area.
Aurora Insight, which recently announced an $18 million post-Series A funding round, has placed sensors on satellites, aircraft, vehicles and fixed sites, and uses them to measure and analyze radio signals in the spectrum bands used by mobile operators. The company uses this data to generate maps that show LTE and 5G basestations in urban, suburban and rural areas. The maps also show how much undeployed, available spectrum each of the four major operators has in the area.
Aurora hopes customers will use its software, called Ion, for network planning and/or for competitive intelligence. It's marketing the solution to mobile network operators and to cable companies.
"We know how you can change the threat of wireless into an opportunity for your business to grow," Aurora CTO and co-founder Jennifer Alvarez told cable companies at this year's CableLabs Summer Conference 2019. "Ion gives you actionable information about wireless activity, infrastructure, interference, technologies and trends. Ion's data is uniquely accurate and comprehensive because it's based on real measurements of the radio frequency spectrum."
Aurora will compete with companies like Opensignal and Ookla's Mosaik, which also map network infrastructure and performance by geography and by operator. But the startup says its sensor-based approach is a differentiator, and investors seem to agree. Alsop Louie Partners, True Ventures, Tippet Venture Partners, Revolution's Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, Promus Ventures, Alumni Ventures Group, ValueStream Ventures and Intellectus Partners are all investors in Aurora Insights.
"The reality of massive MIMO beamforming, high frequencies, and dynamic access techniques employed by 5G networks means it's both more difficult and more important to quantify the radio spectrum," said Gilman Louie of Alsop Louie Partners, now a board member of Aurora, in a release. "Having the accurate and near-real-time feedback on the radio spectrum that Aurora's technology offers could be the difference between building a 5G network right the first time, or having to build it twice."
Alvarez said Aurora uses advanced signal processing, machine learning and deep learning to process and analyze trillions of measurements generated by its sensors. The service will be sold to customers as a subscription. So far, the company has not announced any customer engagements.