Baicells Closes China’s Largest 5G VC Deal to Date
Supported by both domestic and overseas investors, the firm is developing ‘open source’ technologies against the backdrop of the massive 5G rollout.
Baicells (佰才邦), a China-based LTE and 5G solution provider, has closed a Series C, raising hundreds of millions of yuan. This round was jointly led by Greenland Holdings and the China Internet Investment Fund, followed by the Beijing Gehua Silk Road Golden Bridge Fund.
Founded in 2014 by ex-Huawei Fellow Sun Lixin, Baicells is locally considered as a high-profile player in the 5G area. Last year, in 2019, Qualcomm (QCOM:NASDAQ) poured USD 15 million into the firm. According to the founder, the future communication network will be in an open structure due to 5G technology traits and the pursuit of better cost-efficiency. Baicells’ business logic and the major products are based on an ‘open source’ revolution, which is highly related to the concept of distributed computation.
The ‘open source’ strategy, as a shared concept within the 5G realm, was recently mentioned in EqualOcean’s interview series with Huawei’s VP William Genovese.
As one of the first-round members to join the O-RAN Alliance, which envisions evolving radio access networks around the world, Baicells has been taking the role of the chair of the white-box hardware group. The white-box (as opposed to the ‘black-box’) concept aims at reducing the cost of 5G deployment in order to benefit both operators and vendors and foster a decoupled software and hardware platform. During the MWC in 2019, Baicells, accompanied by China Mobile, Lenovo and Intel, presented the first ‘4G/5G O-RAN white-box solution.’
Apart from being an active participant in international 5G corporations and research, Baicells has also established an enjoyable relationship domestically in China. On June 1, Baicells won the bidding for the micro base station provider initiated by China Unicom. The products involved are 5G-related micro base stations, enterprise-level and home-level integrated micro stations, and digital fiber stations. Two weeks later, on June 16, the company got the project approved by the government-backed China Innovation Funding regarding its R&D on open source and interface technologies. Micro base station construction and open-source research are both fundamental elements of the future, involving faster and more democratic 5G applications.