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Verizon, Cisco Invest in Wireless Networking Startup Kumu

Deutsche Telekom contributed to the $25 million raised by Kumu Networks, whose technology is designed to improve the use of wireless spectrum.

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Kumu Networks, a four-year-old startup that is working to improve how mobile carriers can use their wireless spectrum, is getting $25 million in funding from some of those same telecommunications vendors.

Verizon and Deutsche Telekom were among the companies contributing to the latest round of investments, which brings total money raised by Kumu since its founding in 2012 to more than $45 million. Also included in the latest round of investments is Cisco Systems.

Telcos and service providers are struggling to grow the capacity of their networks fast enough to keep up with the skyrocketing traffic running across them. The number of people using mobile devices is increasing rapidly, and the devices themselves are becoming more powerful. Throw in such trends as the rising use of bandwidth-heavy applications like video, the growing number of devices being used, the burgeoning Internet of things (IoT) and upcoming 5G, and the challenges to carriers become clear.

Cisco officials, in the company's annual Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast, a year ago predicted that by 2019, mobile traffic will reach 292 exabytes per year. In 2014, that number was 30 exabytes. Also by 2019, 5.2 billion people worldwide—about 69 percent of the people in the world—will be using mobile devices and 11.5 billion mobile connections.

Kumu Networks—co-founded by a group of professors and Ph.D students from Stanford University—is developing a technology called Wireless Full Duplex, which officials said will double the capacity of existing wireless spectrum by enabling carriers to send and receive data at the same time using a single frequency channel.

The company has created a technology that cancels self-interference—the energy that leaks form a radio's receiver while transmitting—which frees it up to receive signals. This ability to cleanly send and receive data at the same time will help save money and ease spectrum management, company officials said.

Kumu reportedly is working with Deutsche Telekom to test the technology, which could be commercially available later this year.