Expeto, a software company in the private wireless space, is providing Portland General Electric (PGE) with a private wireless network that spans an area over 4,000 square miles and 250,000 connected grid elements.
How is that even possible, you might ask? Don’t private wireless networks need some kind of clearly-defined boundary such as an industrial campus, a school building or even the boundaries of a city?
Expeto’s software treats a company’s private wireless network almost like software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) technology, which transformed the enterprise networking landscape.
The software can use public wireless networks or tap other spectrum. For instance, in the U.S. Expeto’s software could use a mix of public wireless along with CBRS spectrum, whether it’s through a priority access license or general authorized access.
Michael Anderson, CEO of Expeto, said the company’s software allows enterprises to integrate wireless into their IT systems. “That is unique,” he said.
For PGE’s private network, it will be using existing public cellular networks.
Anderson is not revealing which carrier, or carriers, PGE is leveraged for its private wireless network. But he said, “In terms of carriers, we have relationships with public carriers all over the world, and where we don’t, we can use traditional roaming. Our whole business model is on software.”
Expeto can put multiple profiles of public carriers on PGE’s SIM cards. And then the company’s software uses 3GPP interfaces allowing PGE to use the public signals, including LTE and 5G, from various carriers.
Asked if this technology was similar to network slicing, Anderson said 5G network slicing will be used to “virtualize channels on the RAN,” but that technology has more to do with the carriers and how they sell their services.
Expeto is focused on private wireless from the enterprise perspective. Its platform provides the wireless core, the SIM and the orchestration-level patented IP that enables enterprises to deploy and manage private networks in a way that suits their business needs.
The company does not make any hardware. It sources its radios from other vendors such as Ericsson, Nokia and Airspan.
Expeto worked with PGE for a year testing various use cases such as wildfire cameras, electric vehicle (EV) charging, smart meters and distributed energy management gateways.
PGE — whose territory covers half the state of Oregon, some in rural areas and some in urban locales — plans to use the private wireless network to support automated grid resiliency, monitoring of field conditions with smart sensors and devices, connected workers for employee safety and charging stations for EVs.
Expeto says by using connectivity from Tier-one mobile operators, companies such as PGE receive the functionality of a private wireless network without the capital and operating expenditures of a typical 10-year private network buildout that would require spectrum acquisition, RF analysis, hiring and training teams of engineers and subcontractors, and tower and radio infrastructure permitting and deployment.
Expeto is a private company headquartered in Canada with about 50 employees. It’s been working with the Canadian operator Rogers Communications, which uses Expeto as its private wireless partner.
Anderson said, “With Rogers our platform is fully integrated in their Rogers for Business. Every private wireless network they sell is with Expeto.”
Expeto focuses on medium to large enterprises, many in “mission critical” businesses such as PGE.
According to CrunchBase, Expeto has raised $25.9 million.
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