Intel Capital and Qualcomm Ventures led the investment and were joined by Verizon Ventures 1, Samsung Next and existing investors. Including the new round, Cellwize has raised a total of $56 million since being founded in 2013, Ofir Zemer, CEO of Cellwize, told Crunchbase News. That includes a $14.5 million Series A round back in 2015, according to Crunchbase data.
Cellwize’s CHIME platform is a cloud-based, artificial intelligence-driven radio access network (RAN) that enables mobile network operators to accelerate 5G network deployment and go-to-market, as well as improve the return on investment on their network investments, Zemer said.
The company’s initial platform was a self-organizing network (SON) that enabled carriers to reconfigure their networks. In late 2016, after working with Bell Canada, the company asked Cellwize for automation capabilities in addition to the current optimization.
“So, we built the platform from scratch and addressed Bell Canada’s use case to ‘mass densify’ their network without them paying hundreds of millions of dollars,” Zemer said. “Two years later, we took that new platform to Verizon and other legacy customers, saying that now the platform can do much more.”
Analysts have valued the SON market at approximately $1 billion, but Zemer has a more conservative value in the low hundreds of millions. However, RAN automation is a new domain that he thinks has the potential to be that high.
The company has offices in Tel Aviv, Singapore, Europe and Latin America. The new funding is earmarked for several places including extending its sales and marketing reach to other mobile carriers, investing in AI, helping enterprise customers with their shift to 5G, and looking into additional lines of business, such as private networks.
Currently, Cellwize is selling to public networks. In order to move into private networks, the go-to-market is different and the value chain is more complex as it includes different players, systems and carrier sizes, Zemer said.
Due to private networks being created by company information technology people, Cellwize plans to create an offering that is more simplified and enables anyone to implement, he added.
Meanwhile, David Johnson, managing director of Intel Capital, said in an interview that Intel and Cellwize have a “shared vision” about network transformation.
He said that Cellwize’s CHIME platform was attractive because it was using the cloud to increase operational efficiency. That, combined with the company’s open platform architecture, which allowed all the network elements to talk seamlessly, was proof that Cellwize and Intel shared a vision for this technology.
“We are also excited about the team,” Johnson added. “They are highly experienced, with deep telecom software and automation expertise, and we think that is how they won great customers.”