Bell takes a punt on Cohere’s Open RAN tech

now open sign neon

Canadian incumbent Bell Canada has become the latest telco to invest in budding Open RAN software supplier Cohere Technologies.

Cohere is working on two product offerings. Its Universal Spectrum Multiplier (USM) software claims to offer a 2x improvement in spectral efficiency and capacity. It can be integrated in the RAN, distributed unit (DU), centralised unit (CU), or as an xApp in the RAN intelligent controller (RIC) within a telco cloud. Cohere says USM can work on both 4G and 5G networks.

Its other, more future-looking offering is centred on Orthogonal Time Frequency Space (OTFS), a modulation technique that according to Cohere promises to also improve spectral efficiency, and could one day be a candidate 6G technology.

As part of its investment, Bell plans to trial USM on its 5G network in the second quarter of this year, and to evaluate the performance of OTFS.

“Bell is delighted to collaborate with Cohere Technologies to further differentiate Bell’s world-class networks and to accelerate the maturity of the O-RAN ecosystem and support the global development of more O-RAN standards,” said a statement on Monday from Mark McDonald,VP, wireless access, Bell. “Such advancement in the industry will drive innovation in future wireless networks, which is a clear illustration of Bell Ventures’ mission.”

With its investment, Bell becomes the latest in a long line of backers that have shown interest in Cohere’s ideas.

It is less than a year since Cohere raised $46 million from a funding round led by Koch Industries’ venture capital arm, Koch Strategic Platforms (KSP). Cohere said at the time the investment gave it the financial backing it needed to finalise the commercialisation of its USM software.

In addition to Bell and KSP, Cohere’s other backers include Juniper Networks, VMware, Intel’s venture arm Intel Capital, and venture capital firms Macquarie Capital, AME Cloud Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures and New Enterprise Associates (NEA). In addition, in 2015, Australian incumbent Telstra took part in a series C funding round that raised $35 million.

Adding another big-name telco in Bell to its roster gives Cohere further financial security, which can make all the difference for new-ish companies trying to break into the industry.

“This investment aligns our interests and allows us to scale faster toward commercialising our support for 4G and 5G with our Universal Spectrum Multiplier,” said Cohere CEO Ray Dolan, in a statement. “Bell’s interest, collaboration and support is also intended to accelerate OTFS as a candidate for 6G that has unique benefits to the global defence industry as well as satellite connectivity.”

It also contributes to the general momentum behind the Open RAN movement, which received a different kind of boost late last week when Dell’Oro raised its forecast for the sector. The research firm said it expects Open RAN to account for as much as 20% of the total global RAN market by 2027.

“The Open RAN movement has come a long way in just a few years, propelling Open RAN revenues to accelerate at a faster pace than initially expected,” Dell’Oro said. “These trends continued in 2022 and with this latest report, Open RAN expectations have been revised upward to reflect the higher baseline.”


Get the latest news straight to your inbox. Register for the newsletter here.

  • Open RAN Ecosystem

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.