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How GenXComm Is Helping Companies Build 5G Private Networks

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GenXComm is an Austin, Texas-based company that’s focused on helping organizations deploy 5G-based private networks. GenXComm provides a full stack of networking solutions including hardware and software. In this segment of Let’s Talk, we sat down with Hardik Jain, CTO and Co-Founder of GenXComm Inc., to talk about the company and the adoption of 5G private networks.

Here are some of the topics we covered:

  • Intro to the company
  • What factors played a role in the adoption of 5G for private networks?
  • How does Hardik define private 5G networks?
  • What kind of use cases are there for 5G private networks?
  • What kind of challenges or barriers are there in the adoption of private 5G networks?
  • Does GenXComm offer both hardware and software solutions?
  • Core components of GenXComm solutions?
  • We then talked about the growth areas for the company.

Guest: Hardik Jain (LinkedIn)
Company: GenXComm Inc. (Twitter)
Show: Let’s Talk

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host, Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to TFiR: Let’s Talk and my next guest is Hardik Jain, CTO and Co-Founder of GenXComm. Hardik, it’s great to have you on the show.

Hardik Jain: Thank you, Swapnil, for having me.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Since this is the first time we are hosting you folks, so I would like to know a bit about the company still, because you’re also co-founder and CTO. So tell me what problem space that you’d identified that you wanted to solve, which led to the creation of this company?

Hardik Jain: GenXComm is a small company based on Austin, Texas, here in the US. We are one of the few 5G company, based in US. We started our company solving a critical problem of spectrum usage in telecommunication, specially in wireless communication, but it applies to wired communication as well. And the company started it as a commercialization of research that me and some of my colleagues did at The University of Texas at Austin as a part of our PhDs. And soon after that, we started the company to commercialize that. And since then we’ve taken the research in from an idea to product and we are building product and enhancing technology at the company.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Right. Now, let’s just talk about 5G and bandwidth. If you look at networking, traditionally, to get any bandwidth, spectrum was very expensive, but if I’m not wrong because of COVID, we don’t even know which year it is, maybe last year, last of last year, the US government, they freed some spectrum, some bandwidth for 5G use cases, which not only democratized the usage of 5G, also most of these 5G technologies are open source. Even hardware is open source now. We are not doing black boxes anymore, it has moved to commodity hardware.

So can you also talk about how all these factors are also helping further spread of 5G? One more thing is when we do talk about 5G, we are not just talking about what we use on iPhone. 5G is also enabling a lot of private networks that it will enable many use cases that we cannot think about.

Hardik Jain: The Open source efforts in 5G, as well as opening up the CBRS spectrum to deploy cellular networks, both on the enterprise, as well as general commercial use has been super impactful in adoption of wireless cellular technology for use other than operators using it to provide connectivity to our mobile phones and so that has been very helpful. The part that we do or our products do, is very similar to a WiFi mesh.

So before WiFi mesh, if you had to deploy WiFi inside your home, you would have to run cables from one end of the home to the other end of the home. If you have a big home and you want to provide full coverage, that’s the solution. With WiFi mesh, you can have a wireless mesh where you get full coverage provided for WiFi. We do a similar thing for cellular and we provide cellular mesh solutions that provides a very good coverage and capacity. And this can be used both in the private network, as well as public networks.

And building up on the open source ecosystem and CBRS spectrum, our market strategy has been to build a solution for both the private sector, as well as the operators.

Swapnil Bhartiya: How do you define private network, how wide it is and why companies are using it, how it’s enable them to do much more than they can do with, let’s use the word traditional networking?

Hardik Jain: Correct. So traditional networks have probably been used to provide, as an example, WiFi, Bluetooth, [JBL 00:04:36] or any IOT, as well as cellular network from operators are used to provide connectivity. A private network has multiple advantage to its enterprise. The first advantage is it provides them security. Security is a key important aspect. These days, every device that’s connected to this private cellular network is cellular grade secure and that’s very important. The second aspect is the cellular technology provides supporting of multiple levels of devices. It could be all the way from a smartphone or a laptop on the other end of the spectrum and IOT device, which is using very less data. And so cellular is kind of one technology that can support all of that. And by that, technically I mean, lower bandwidth and lower latency to higher bandwidth, higher latency applications can be supported using one technology and that’s super critical.

And that’s why enterprises are more and more leaning towards deploying a private cellular network of their own to connect these devices. Another biggest aspect that cellular provides versus traditional networks is, traditional networks are either just indoor or completely outdoor if they’re deployed by operators and enterprise wants to use that. Private cellular network can be both indoors and outdoors. So imagine you have a factory or a campus where you can deploy this network, in your whole campus inside out with really good coverage, really good quality of services, security, you get all the benefits that you can get from a cellular network and you can still keep [relevant 00:06:30] the data within your enterprise.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you share some use cases where 5G private networks are more critical than other radios? Or what kind of use cases you are seeing for 5G networks?

Hardik Jain: Yeah, so if you take an example, let’s say smart agriculture or precision agriculture. It’s an outdoor environment most of it is a rural area, requiring robots or sensors. All of them connecting over miles and miles or acres and acres of farms connecting to one network. And that could be a particular enterprise’s cellular network. They can go into that. The second example, let’s take refinery. Typically refineries have sensors, which are going to like metal cages, or not cages, but cracker systems, which are really challenging RF environments, not suitable for traditional networks, where you can connect all these sensors, connect all the control loop system and connect them back to a monitoring system that can provide a full view to the enterprise or the operator about what’s going on.

And some of these have long implications or complex implications in terms of being able to connect these devices using cellular, because cellular is the only thing that can connect them because of a challenging environment, to be able to claim their or be able to accurately measure carbon emissions, your carbon credits and use that to get to a more carbon neutral approach. So multifaceted implications or use cases on all the way from our first example of using a smart agriculture or farms to kind of really complex industrial environments like refinery.

Swapnil Bhartiya: If you look at the use cases that you mentioned, there were all industrial use cases, and which also reflect on the kind of work that companies doing the space that you are operating in. Let’s talk about the challenges that are there, or the barriers that users of this industrial environment face, what are those? And how does GenXComm help them overcome those? So let’s start with challenges barrier, and then look at the solution area.

Hardik Jain: One of the biggest challenge is having a network that is both indoor and outdoor. Everybody has deployed traditional networks that are mostly indoors. And so cellular, private cellular provides them, or gives them the capability to have both indoor and outdoor network. And we solve that problem by providing a mesh solution. So when you have to deploy a network in an outdoor environment, we are talking about using a lot of fiber, lot of cable to every access point or every tower. And that can be very expensive and very disruptive to these enterprises or to these factories. And being able to deploy a mesh solution much faster, reduces that significantly, and so reduces their barrier to adopting private cellular. And that’s kind of one of the key differentiation that GenXComm has.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Do you offer the entire stack, because when you talk about, about networking, it involves hardware. So talk about what kind of solutions do you offer? What does it look like?

Hardik Jain: GenXComm provides full network solution as a network, as a service to our customers, we provide the radio equipments. We provide the software that goes along with that. We provide the network stack and that integrates with the enterprise’s existing network. So an enterprise can approach GenXComm or work with GenXComm in setting all of these things up, we partner with multiple ecosystem system partners, like System Integrators, Value Added Resellers, Service Providers, even operators in providing the solution to the end customer. We also work with the System Integrators or Service Providers so that our end customers were already work with.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Let’s talk about technology in depth a bit. Can you talk about some of the core components of GenXComm, as you mentioned, you offer a full networking solution. So I want to understand more or less software side of it, the architecture that you use, and if you consume any, or if you use any latest cloud native open source technologies, one of those.

Hardik Jain: GenXComm solution comprises into two parts to the RAN or Radio Access Network part and then the Core Network part. We do use open source software on the core networking that includes our Orchestration Platform, and we use cloud native applications or have that cloud native applications that go on public cloud for managing, deploying, and orchestrating our network into the enterprise. And our solution is based on Hybrid Cloud strategy. So part of our solution can go into an enterprise’s Local Network Storage or Network Data Center, and a part of it can live on a Public Cloud for scaling and for centralizing the data and control. And we are part of Linux foundation, open network foundation, telecom infrastructure project, multiple communities that support open source. And we are also contributors to these communities as well.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Thanks for talking about your product. Now, let’s talk about the company, your growth area. You folks recently raised another run of funding, $20 million. Can you talk about the areas that you will be investing it? What are the areas where you plan to grow as a company?

Hardik Jain: The recent funding we raise so to speak will help us develop our product specifically in the private 5G and private 5G market and bringing our products out there to more and more customers. So help us grow that segment. It will also help us build out our team to support that group and GenXComm has about 50 employees now, and we are growing quite rapidly. And our plan is to use the funding that we recently received to grow our team, to support our growth in the marketplace.

Swapnil Bhartiya: Hardik, thank you so much for taking time out today and talk about not only the company, but also the much bigger picture of 5G. Though, our focus was more on the Industrial use case, but thanks for shedding those insights. And I look forward to talk to you again, because 5G space is one of the most exciting space, a lot of things are happening and changing fast. So I’m already looking forward towards our next conversation. Thank you for your time today.

Hardik Jain: Thank you, Swapnil.

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