US vendor Mavenir closed a $155 million funding round, advancing a strategy to focus on providing systems integration services to operators for brownfield open RAN deployments.

Mavenir CEO Pardeep Kohli (pictured) told Mobile World Live the latest round was covered by an existing investor upping their stake.

The move follows a $95 million funding round in August, which was the first time Mavenir took on public debt.

As a systems integrator for brownfield open RAN, Mavenir plans to offer operators’ turnkey set-ups combining its own software and hardware with other vendors products, including Fujitsu and NEC for radios, and Dell and HP hardware.

Mavenir began selling licences to its software before developing hardware including radios a few years ago.

Kohli explained its operator proposition is “still based on an open RAN, and we can mix and match all of that stuff, but it doesn’t look like they’re buying from five different vendors because we put it all together”.

He stated there’s an opportunity for Mavenir because operators are focused on running their networks rather than building a brownfield environment based on open RAN.

Kohli argued Mavenir’s advantage over rival systems integrators is they cannot cover all the necessary requirements “because it’s not their products” and they have not integrated interfaces with other vendors like his company has.

The funding is timely as Mavenir looks to generate revenue of more than $1 billion in 2023: in 2021, the sum was $636 million.

“If I need to deploy more of these systems and I need to be the system integrator, then I need those supply chains sorted out now because if we don’t start now then it won’t happen next year,” he noted. “We need to get ready now if we’re going to cross $1 billion.”

Dish Network named Mavenir one of its first 5G vendors in 2020, but Kohli stated it was able to act as its own systems integrator during the construction of the company’s greenfield network.

While the goal of open RAN includes using software, cloud and open interfaces to allow mobile operators to select network components, uptake for greenfield deployments has been slow to date.

Moving to brownfield gives open RAN vendors a much larger playing field.

AvidThink founder and principal Roy Chua told MWL open RAN in brownfield macro deployments is a challenge, but “an important pillar going forward for success”.

Kohli told MWL the latest funding round also reflected the need to gear up supply chains and inventory requirements for deployments in 2023.

“If you look at Nokia, and Ericsson, they have $4 billion or $5 billion of inventory to meet all their supply chain requirements.”

“As we grow, our working capital needs grow, but we will also have bigger contracts to support it.”

Kohli predicted Mavenir’s staff would ultimately return to around 6,000, after layoffs in August.

“We may add another 400 or 500 people next year,” he stated, noting Mavenir will also require additional subcontractors for the brownfield deployments.