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Spalding returns with $20M for hardened cell towers

Former White House National Security Council official Gen. Robert Spalding is making waves again in the 5G arena, this time with a startup selling hardened cell towers and data centers.

According to Axios, Spalding is the CEO of Sempre, a startup that just raised $20 million in a funding round led by Goff Capital. The firm is backed by John Goff, a Texas real estate investor.

As Spalding explained to Microwave Journal in July, Sempre is selling an integrated cell tower and data center that is designed, according to US military standards, to withstand a high-altitude nuclear event. According to the company's website, Sempre's tower "is the only EMP-hardened 5G gNb with True Edge processing, with both software and hardware built to military-grade standards and design requirements." The company is selling the tower to customers in the rural, first responder and government markets. Spalding told Axios the company is still looking for "anchor tenants" for its towers.

Sempre boasts that its cell tower design can withstand nuclear, electromagnetic and cyber attacks, and includes data center capabilities for edge computing.  
(Source: Sempre)
Sempre boasts that its cell tower design can withstand nuclear, electromagnetic and cyber attacks, and includes data center capabilities for edge computing.
(Source: Sempre)

Spalding gained prominence in 2018 when he penned the original National Security Council draft – cited in a 2018 Axios report – that raised the prospect of a national 5G network. His detail on the council was not renewed, according to reports from 2018, and the concept of a national 5G network has been widely criticized.

Since then he's been working to launch a tech company. "This is my passion," Spalding told Axios. "It's not something that people are really working on."

Earlier this year, Spalding filed comments to the US Department of Defense arguing that the Pentagon needs to "deploy a secure private 5G network that has an architecture that not only meets DoD's stringent security requirements, but also accelerates innovation." He filed the comments as co-founder of Q Networks. At the time, he explained that the "Q" in the name of his Q Networks company stands for post-quantum encryption and not QAnon, a disproven and discredited far-right conspiracy theory involving former President Trump.

Concerns over the resiliency of wireless networks aren't new. For example, the nation's top wireless network operators in 2016 created a disaster recovery plan with trade group CTIA. The plan includes voluntary coordination among carriers, local governments and others, as well as promises to share information during and after emergencies and disasters.

And, earlier this year, the nation's big wireless network operators filed comments with the FCC on the recent steps they have taken to harden their networks. Such steps mainly involve supplying their cell tower sites with back-up battery power capabilities.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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