WiChorus Nabs $18M in Funding Round

Wireless broadband infrastructure startup WiChorus Inc. has grabbed $18 million in a Series C round of venture capital funding, bringing its total cash infusion to $43 million.

Pinnacle Ventures led what WiChorus says was an oversubscribed up-round. Existing investors Accel Partners , Mayfield , and Redpoint Ventures all provided additional funds. Ken Pelowski, founder and managing director of Pinnacle Ventures, will join the board as an observer. (See Wireless Funding Soars in September.)

WiChorus says that it will use the money to "grow all aspects" of its business. The company is focused on the wireless technologies that are expected to evolve into fourth-generation (4G) networks, mobile WiMax and Long-Term Evolution (LTE). (See 4G Drives All-IP Mobile Networks.) The company offers a couple of different products to help operators manage and -- hopefully -- make more money off mobile data on these next-gen networks.

The company's SmartCore Home Agent software, for instance, enables roaming and data handoffs as a user roams on these wireless broadband networks. The firm is pushing the concept of new service-aware packet gateway platforms for WiMax and LTE networks, which would eventally supplant current data service gateways like GPRS gateway support nodes (GGSNs) for so-called “4G” packet gateways.

"WiChorus is building a good reputation among carriers as an ASN Gateway and Home Agent supplier," notes Gabriel Brown, senior analyst at Heavy Reading. "The WiMax radio vendors lack capable packet gateway products, and, with the odd exception, the traditional mobile packet core suppliers haven’t really made a play for this market, so that’s given WiChorus an opportunity."

WiChorus is following the path of 3G infrastructure startups like Airvana Inc. and Starent Networks Corp. (Nasdaq: STAR) in teaming up with established networking firms to get its equipment into conservative carrier networks. (See Airvana: 'Betting the Farm' on Femto.) The firm's most high-profile deal is its recent WiMax partnership with Nortel. (See Nortel Fleshes Out WiMax Strategy.) It has, however, inked other similar deals with ADC (Nasdaq: ADCT), Aperto Networks Inc. , NextWave Wireless Inc. (Nasdaq: WAVE), and others. (See ADC Integrates WiChorus, NextWave, WiChorus Team, and WiChorus, Aperto Interoperate.) "Feedback from operators on the product is good," Brown says. "Operators like that WiChorus has done a lot of interop work with other suppliers -- it helps keep the industry honest with respect to standards compliance. Operators are concerned that some of the larger vendors are recreating the proprietary lock-in familiar from the cellular world."

"A big question mark over WiChorus is: Does it have the scale and resources to truly support major operators?" Brown continues. "This funding goes some way to addressing that."

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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