IS-Wireless seeks next $10 million for “open-mobile” system

The development of its latest software-defined 4G and 5G products did not begin until 2016. A year later, IS-Wireless secured about $5 million in seed capital from various sources. With its staff of 50 employees, it is today part of open RAN’s “Wave 2,” says CEO Slawomir Pietrzyk.

Based near Warsaw, IS-Wireless was founded way back in 2006 but spent most of its early years as a mobile technology research outfit, bolstered by funding from Europe’s FP7 and Horizon 2020 initiatives.

Interest in the concept of open RAN has rocketed over the last couple of years, with analysts at Dell’Oro and Omdia now expecting it to account for a double-digit percentage of all radio access network sales by the mid-2020s. In most of today’s mobile networks, software is screwed tightly into customized hardware and one vendor usually supplies everything. Open RAN aims to break this system apart. Ideally, it would mean any vendor’s software would run with anyone else’s hardware. Operators could use entirely different suppliers for radios and baseband, the main RAN components.

But why does open RAN need another yet another software developer? Partly, it seems, because of geopolitics. When several of Europe’s largest operators clubbed together in January, urging European authorities to provide funding for local open RAN players, it was out of concern that most options today come from Asia or the US.

From a risk management perspective, Pietrzyk says it is not good that Altiostar, Mavenir and Parallel Wireless all have their core development centers in India. “It is putting all the eggs into one basket,” he tells Light Reading. With its capabilities in central and eastern Europe, IS-Wireless can be a geographical alternative.

As it moves from behind-the-scenes development to commercialization, IS-Wireless is also looking to raise additional funds. “We are moving to raise up to $10 million in a Round A right now for covering two years of trials and proofs of concept and we already secured some funding for product development,” says Pietrzyk.

Skeptics still doubt that small open RAN players can challenge the might of Ericsson, Huawei and Nokia, companies that had a combined R&D budget of nearly $32 billion last year. But if open RAN delivers on its promise, it should also make size and financial resources matter less, giving startups a chance to compete.

Equally important is the evident desire of some operators to use alternatives to the usual suspects in the future. Supplier diversity is the new buzz term for governments and service providers alike. For IS-Wireless and its brethren, the technological and geopolitical winds are currently blowing in the right direction.


Our privacy policy