US-based Vanu Inc, maker of software radios and base stations for cellular operators, has raised $32 million from Tata Capital, Norwest Venture Partners and existing backer Charles River Ventures (CRV). This is a strategic investment on part of Tata's as Vanu's product will have application for its telecom services arm.
Last year, Vanu had raised $9 million in Series A investment round led by CRV. Vanu is headed by Dr Vanu Bose,the son of Amar Bose of Bose acoustics fame, and is based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. The firm also has business development centers in Bangalore, Gurgaon and Mumbai.
What Vanu Does
An MIT graduate, Vanu Bose had helped develop software solutions that allow operators to switch from one standard from GSM to CDMA. The firm, which was formed in 2003, is now planning to take this application to the 3G and 4G level. Vanu's firm has also been awarded the first software radio access network (RAN) by the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
Rather than processing wireless standards in single-purpose components – the traditional method that requires costly, specialized signal processing hardware – Vanu Anywave defines and processes each technology entirely in software.Vanu's Anywave System offers spectrum owners new ways to generate revenue from their spectrum by deploying a single platform that supports multiple standards simultaneously and is easily upgradeable to new standards in the future via remote software downloads.
Last year, Vanu along with Texas-based Mid-Tex Cellular, had launched first commercial network to simultaneously operate both CDMA and GSM wireless standards on a single system. Vanu has also been chosen for rural state-wide infrastructure deployment in Alaska. Vanu has also tied up with BSE-listed network services provider GTL Ltd. for a field trial of active/passive wireless infrastructure.
Strategic Investment For Tata?
Tata may look to bring this technology in India through Tata Communications, which presently uses CDMA platform. Tata Communications can leverage the 3G &4G expertise of Vanu as it is also planning to roll out nationwide GSM services, in which it's investing $2 billion. The firm plans to start these operations by end of next year. Tata has 27 million subscribers and has received spectrum for 6 circles (Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry, Andhra Pradesh and Orissa).
In India, separate licences are required for GSM and CDMA licences and bulk of the telecom users are GSM subscribers. This has led the major CDMA operators like Tata and Reliance to rollout GSM operations. In the wake of all this, Vanu's entry will have implications on the telecom market in India.