3.5GHz Startup Gets $22M for Small Cells
Federated Wireless, a company looking to tap into the interest in using 3.5GHz public spectrum in the US for small cells, has grabbed $22 million in a Series A round of venture funding.
Arlington, Va.-based Federated Wireless Inc. started in 2012, as a "science experiment," CEO Iyad Tarazi tells Light Reading. The former Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) network VP joined as CEO in 2014, after leaving the operator. (See Sprint Loses Its Small Cell Guru.)
Federated Wireless, Tarazi says, was "created in anticipation of FCC ruling" on the use of 3.5GHz spectrum. In April 2015, the agency voted to open up 150MHz of 3.5GHz spectrum for public use, including 100MHz that had previously been reserved for the military. (See 3.5GHz Interest Group Unveils Device Ecosystem Developments.)
70MHz of that spectrum will be "lightly licensed," Tarazi tells us. This means issuing a three-year license that will be extendable to six years, rather than the ten-plus years that typically get doled out, although the license holder can lose rights to the bandwidth if it lets it lay fallow.
Small cells and other commercial radios will still have to co-exist with offshore US Navy radars in the 3.5GHz band, which is part of a usage issue that Federated has set out to solve. The company is putting up a network of 3.5GHz radio sensors close to the shoreline to detect the navy radars and minimize exclusion zones. It has also set up the CINQ XP cloud-based system to enable carriers -- and others -- to determine how and where to use FCC-certified 3.5GHz devices to extend their networks.
The push to open up 3.5GHz has been backed by the Wireless Innovation Forum (WInn Forum). Tarazi sits on the board of directors along with Preston Marshall, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG)'s top wireless networking expert. The group currently has around 40 members.
"We've been working closely with Google and the rest of the Winn Forum," Tarazi says. "All four [major US] carriers are engaged and active in the forum."
Tests are expected to start in the 3.5GHz band in the second half of this year, with the band becoming available for use by the end of 2016. Small cells -- built by Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) and others -- are likely to be the first devices to use the newly opened spectrum.
"We have prototypes now," Tarazi says.
Federated Wireless is a subsidiary of Boston technology incubator Allied Minds, which put up $5 million of the funding for the Series A round. Woodford Investment Management led the round with a $15 million investment. (See Federated Wireless Raises $22M.)
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading