Quantenna raises $79m for gigabit Wi-Fi
Russian nanotechnology group backs chip start-up, which will establish base there as it pushes new 11ac standard
Published: 17 April, 2012
Amid rising interest in gigabit Wi-Fi, one of its pioneers, Quantenna Communications, has closed a Series F round of funding worth $79m.
The round includes $40m from new lead investor Rusnano, which is controlled by the Russian government, and $20m from another new backer, Bright Capital. All existing major investors - Sequoia Capital, DAG Ventures, Grazia Equity, Sigma Partners, Southern Cross Venture Partners and Venrock Associates - also joined the round. Last autumn, Quantenna also added Telefonica to its list of supporters.
Rusnano's participation is part of a broader trend for Russia to claim a place in global standards and patents, with a view to becoming more technologically self-sufficient in future. The institution, whose remit is to develop its country's nanotechnology prowess via joint investments, says it will leverage synergies between its own initiatives and Quantenna's portfolio. Its managing director George Kolpachev will become a member of Quantenna's board of directors, and the chip start-up will open a Russian subsidiary.
"Quantenna has done more than any other company in the world to unleash the technical potential of Wi-Fi by pioneering 4x4 solutions," said Kolpachev in a statement. "This investment, along with our collaboration on a subsidiary entity in Russia, will help expand the role that Russia's science and engineering schools are playing in the development of world class solutions for the rapidly growing wireless equipment segment."
Quantenna focuses on fast Wi-Fi for carrying high definition video, in particular, around the home. Last November it was the first chip provider to sample commercial silicon for the new 802.11ac standard, which will be finalized soon and will deliver gigabit Wi-Fi speeds in the 5GHz band. Since Quantenna's move, Broadcom, Qualcomm and others have also set out their stalls.
Quantenna's two-chip QAC2300 implements a draft version of 802.11ac, and delivers up to 1.1Gbps at the application layer and 1.5Gbps at the PHY layer. Quantenna has provided two alpha customers with reference designs and expects to have the parts in production by May. The firm also claims 35 designs wins in the current 11n standard, including in Netgear access points and Motorola set-top boxes. It was the first company to implement 11n with 4x4 MIMO arrays. "That's what we have to do as a start-up, keep running as fast as we can to stay ahead of the pack," CEO Sam Heidari said.
The new funding will be used to expand the firm's engineering and service organizations in order to support its 11n customers, and to accelerate new product development as it targets additional market segments.
"In this fast growing market space, our technology continues to be the leading choice among service providers for ultra-reliable wireless video distribution anywhere in the home," added Heidari in a statement. "Our video over Wi-Fi chipsets are on their way to penetrating new markets this year beyond the service provider segment. The round also enables us to expand our presence in Russia with the addition of a team of highly qualified specialists."