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Wireless wizard Kumu Networks absorbs $15M — even if exec says it doesn’t need it

Kumu's tech has the potential to double the capacity of wireless networks, according to the company

Above: Kumu's tech has the potential to double the capacity of wireless networks, according to the company

Image Credit: Photo Illustration: Eric Blattberg

Touting a technology that promises to increase the capacity of wireless networks, Kumu Networks just snagged $15 million in a funding round led by Third Point Ventures with participation NEA and Khosla Ventures.

Founded in 2012, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based startup stems from CEO Sachin Katti’s research at Stanford University, where he discovered a way to remove radio interference that creates spectrum fragmentation issues across wireless networks.

“Conceptually, the solution that we came up with is very similar to a noise-canceling headset,” said Joel Brand, Kumu’s vice president of product management, who described himself as the only guy in the office not messing around with the technology. “We look at the transmitter signal, and we inject a reverse noise that cancels that initial noise.”

Self-interference is a problem for all wireless technologies, including 3G, 4G, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth networks. By negating that interference, Kumu’s solution could potentially double the capacity of wireless networks, according to Brand.

Another notable wireless technology is DIDO, which eliminates interference for users sharing the same spectrum. But Brand thinks Kumu’s solution is unique, at least in the commercial marketplace.

“Different companies are trying to improve performance of filters, make them smaller, cheaper, operate on a wider frequency band — and those are all extremely important — but they are not canceling frequencies,” he told VentureBeat.

Kumu’s tech, as it exists today, works for wireless base stations (infrastructure), but the company will use its newfound cash reserves to shrink it down to chip size so it works in mobile phones and Wi-Fi devices.

Not that Kumu really needed the money.

“We don’t need the money yet,” said Brand. “But there was a lot of inbound interest from a lot of strategic partners… In the process, we decided we did not want to commit to any one particular partner, and we opted to take money from a few financial investors that will allow us to keep complete neutrality with future partners.”

Kumu’s tech is being considered as the foundation for next-generation 5G and high-efficiency WiFi standards, according to the company.

“Yesterday, this technology was not possible, and today it’s possible,” said Brand. “That’s what makes us different.”

More information:

Khosla Ventures is a venture capital firm run by people who listen to, analyze, and advise entrepreneurs. We manage a main fund that supports early- and late-stage investments and a seed fund for developing very early-stage experiments... read more »

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