Cohere Technologies Inc., which works with phone companies to send more data through existing communications infrastructure, raised $46 million valuing the startup at about $500 million.
Airwaves or “spectrum” rights are the scarcest resource in wireless technology, akin to land in construction. With data usage skyrocketing, limited airwave access can act as a bottleneck, making them extremely valuable. Carriers have paid the U.S. government almost $100 billion for the rights to use certain 5G frequencies.
Santa Clara, California-based Cohere says it adds software to mobile radio equipment that uses spectrum more efficiently by directing transmissions in a more targeted way.
Chief Executive Officer Ray Dolan likened the technology to using spotlights in a theater instead of lighting up the whole stage at once. Last year Vodafone Group Plc said Cohere’s “spectrum multiplier” boosted network capacity in a trial.
“One of the main targets companies like to target is to be a unicorn,” Dolan said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We’re not there, but we’re halfway there.”
Cohere’s funding round was led by Koch Industries Inc, alongside existing investors including Lightspeed Ventures and Telstra Corp Ltd. The company has yet to make money but hopes to convert its trials into major contracts soon.
“This is most likely our last need for financing before we go public, assuming that’s the outcome,” said Dolan. “We’re not thinking too far down the road.”
The company is also launching a new product Tuesday, which will allow companies to use its software on any kind of standard, be it 4G, 5G, Wi-Fi, or future 6G networks.