Viewpoint / Enterprise

Partnering with Highway 9 Networks on Mobile Cloud for Enterprise AI

Green highway 9 and mayfield logosWith the news of their $25 million inception round led by us, I am thrilled to welcome serial entrepreneur Allwyn Sequeira and the Highway 9 Networks founding team of Debashis Basak, Serge Maskalik, and Sachin Thakkar to the Mayfield family. Together, they have built several billion-dollar businesses and created multiple markets while at VMware, including software-defined networking (SDN) and private/hybrid clouds. As the first Mobile Cloud for the AI Enterprise, Highway 9 is an example of the infrastructure layer of Mayfield’s Cognitive Plumbing investment strategy. 

AI is increasingly powering massive transformation initiatives in the enterprise—like robotic manufacturing lines, drone-based surveillance, distributed real-time business analysis and more. Use of AI on distributed devices requires always-on, high bandwidth and low latency wireless networks. As wireless networks become higher throughput, the physics of wireless data transmission makes these networks increasingly prone to interference. While a dropped cell phone call causes annoyance or inconvenience, the unreliability of a mobile connection has much higher consequences for AI workloads. 

A leading automaker and Highway 9 customer found that the autonomous robots on their manufacturing line would stall when they lost connectivity. These stalls would stop or slow down the assembly line impacting production and create safety risks. After extensive research and testing for multiple WiFi and cellular solutions, they found that Highway 9 and its Mobile Cloud was the only solution that could provide the highly reliable connectivity required for that autonomous manufacturing. At the same factory, their employees and machines needed an integrated indoor + outdoor network for effective logistics and inventory control, and once again the Highway 9 Mobile Cloud was the only solution able to provide a private mobile network that allowed devices to move between customers’ existing WiFi and cellular networks seamlessly without even changing the IP address. 

Highway 9 addresses enterprises’ core AI and automation (aka the “AI enterprise”) requirements through a unique cloud-based mobility platform. The Highway 9 Mobile Cloud revolutionizes the deployment and operation of private and hybrid mobile networks through a true cloud-native, integrated set of virtualized mobile services that work with a wide range of mobile network devices. Highway 9 also seamlessly integrates these devices with all the existing enterprise wireless and wired networks and security solutions. Highway 9’s product is sold to enterprise IT infrastructure teams and allows enterprise IT to have full control of these cellular networks in an operating model that works for enterprise IT.

Enterprise customers will also be able to use Highway 9 Mobile Cloud to extend the signals of the public cellular networks on their campuses without having to install expensive dedicated physical infrastructure for each carrier such as Distributed Antenna Systems (DAS) that does not integrate with enterprise security and networking. This will make bad indoor cellular coverage and indoor dropped calls a thing of the past. 

Mobile networks have been designed for higher security, lower power, longer range and high quality of service, but they have been hard to use as private networks. There is a once-in-a-generation convergence of developments that makes this easy now. In 2020, the FCC authorized the full use of Citizen Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) spectrum to be used for cellular networks without having to obtain spectrum licenses. Before this, any private cellular service required an enterprise to partner with a spectrum licensee which was typically a government entity or a telco. Mobile networks used to require physical SIM cards but eSIMs are now pervasive. In fact, by 2025, there will be 3.5 billion eSIM enabled mobile devices such as laptops, phones, tablets, watches and other mobile devices. Windows, Android and iOS have added native support for private cellular networks which makes it very easy for enterprise mobile and IOT device management solutions to easily configure private cellular networks and prioritize them for mission critical workloads. 

Being a People First investor, it is our privilege to partner with this seasoned team to address the huge mobility needs of the AI enterprise. We are looking forward to the next chapter of their journey. 

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