Why We Invested in Shabodi
5G is being deployed, relentlessly, on a global basis. According to GSMA, at the end of 2021 more than 20% of the global population was already within coverage of a 5G mobile network. Ericsson goes further. As reported in the November 2022 Ericsson Mobility Report, by 2028 the total number of global 5G subscriptions will reach 5 billion, a number in excess of 60% of the current global human population.
Despite the intensity of this 5G deployment process it is worth pausing for a moment, however, to consider the fundamental purpose of this massive infrastructure and capital investment. 5G New Radio (NR) promises to deliver radically improved, gigabit-per-second (Gbps) class data rates to subscribers. This compares well to 4G LTE’s more humble megabit-per-second (Mbps) performance. Network spectral efficiency – a measure of spectrum productivity and hence a crude upstream indicator of network operators profitability – is also significantly enhanced by 5G NR. And in all this, 5G NR is benefiting from the tailwind of new global spectrum releases in C-Band and the millimeter-wave frequency bands.
But what will the average consumer ultimately see as a measurable benefit? More importantly, why should he or she be willing to spend more money on a subscription, or buy more 5G services? For 5G to offer a compelling return on its enormous capital investment, it must do more than just provide a faster ‘bit-pipe’ or satisfy the demands of geostrategic competition. Rather, it must offer new, compelling, and differentiated services to the user.
What might those services be? Clearly, we know that video delivery over mobile networks will continue to grow undiminished. It already accounts for 60% of network traffic, but a consumer will experience little difference in video delivery between 4G LTE and 5G NR. Rather, we believe that 5G’s real promise to the consumer lies, at least in part, in the delivery of interactive video, and more generally immersive media. This will start with gaming services, followed by consumer entertainment rooted in a new cadre of wearable augmented reality (AR) and mixed reality (MR) devices that will be launched by the middle of the decade. In parallel, 5G enterprise and industrial functions such as interactive design collaboration, inventory management, machine and process control, and production line management will be deployed using the same technology.
At SineWave, we asked what might prevent the realization of this vision? We believe one key component lies the relationship between the network and the application developer. For an enterprise developer to deliver, for example, a compelling immersive media stream to an augmented reality device, she or he must be assured that the network will deliver a guaranteed data rate in the region of 10-25Mbps. And, if the consumer is to avoid nausea (highly desirable in a commercial service), it must do so with a guaranteed delay or latency of less than about 8 milliseconds.
Problematically, however, 4G LTE and earlier mobile networks usually deliver data on a “best effort” basis. In other words, there were no guarantees to the application of how the service would perform. 5G NR changes all that. The switches and radio systems that comprise a 5G network can be adjusted with excruciating precision to precisely deliver the data rate and latency that each consumer, enterprise or industrial service demands.
But with excruciating precision comes complexity. Hundreds of 5G network parameters must be adjusted and optimized to ensure the characteristics of an individual data stream meet requirements. And those network adjustments must be executed in a completely secure fashion. Critically, all this is well beyond the capability of a traditional Java or .NET enterprise developer, who has never been trained on 5G network architecture and in any case would not have time to execute the required network configuration.
In SineWave’s view, this is where the clear and present opportunity for Shabodi’s Application Enabling Platform (AEP) software arises. The Shabodi AEP presents a single, unified interface to the enterprise or mobile developer. That developer only has to issue a few simple commands towards the Shabodi AEP in order to configure and enable the network to transport their 5G augmented reality or machine control service. The Shabodi AEP translates the developer’s intent into the multiplicity of 5G network-specific commands required to configure the 5G network to transport the application’s network traffic. If Shabodi executes to plan, over time they will assure command translation across a variety of network operators and regions. By spanning both private and public 5G networks, a developer can rely on Shabodi to deliver a harmonized experience regardless of the location of a target user device. Further, over time, Shabodi’s approach need not be limited to only 5G NR networks; there is room to grow in the direction of different network technologies.
The result is a simplified and accelerated developer experience. Enhanced productivity and frictionless business models lie at the heart of much of what interests SineWave. Accordingly, SineWave is excited to be part of Shabodi’s journey, and proud to lead Shabodi’s Series A round.
See funding announcement here.