Chip giant Qualcomm is opening its wallet and announced today (Monday) the acquisition of Cellwize – an Israeli startup that develops automation products for cellular networks. Qualcomm is one of the investors in the Israeli startup and took part in its last round of recruitment in 2020. The purchase amount has not been announced but is estimated at $300 million.

Qualcomm wants to expand to 5G

The platform developed by Cellwize knows how to automate cellular networks, and enables the deployment, operation, and optimization of multi-technology networks automatically and openly. Cellwize’s product addresses these various challenges by adding capabilities to automate processes related to future network technologies, which will allow operators to shorten the time to market without increasing manpower costs as a function of network size.

For example, when an operator sets up a new site (i.e., new antennas), the platform allows the site to be connected to the network in just a few minutes, compared to many weeks of manual work. Automation includes analysis of thousands of parameters and activation of ML-based algorithms dealing with geographic and physical models that allow the deployment of new sites and networks in a relatively short time. In addition, the system is also capable of changing network performance according to changing consumption patterns. That is, on days when there is a concert in Hayarkon Park which causes more traffic, the system can adjust the network so that it does not collapse in the area.

Qualcomm has decided to open its wallet to acquire the Israeli startup to strengthen its position in the 5G world and says the acquisition will allow them to provide access point deployment services that connect end devices – like our smartphones, for example – to the cloud in public and private 5G networks. Qualcomm plans to do this, among other things, by using the Cellwize platform. In addition, Qualcomm will offer a system for managing these Radio Access Points (or RAN) at the same time and will work to create a flexible architecture of access points to offer to third parties.

Ofir Zemer, former CEO of Cellwize, who will now serve as Vice President of Qualcomm's Product Management division, said [regarding the acquisition]: "We are excited to join Qualcomm, as we are both committed to modernizing access points to enable mobile network operators and large companies to execute their digital transformation–and profit from it."

Cellwize was founded in 2012 by Sasi Geva and Daniel Dribinski, two entrepreneurs who came from the field of cellular communications. Ofir Zemer served as the company’s CEO from 2013 until the acquisition. As mentioned, the acquisition is estimated to have been for $300 million, with about $75 million having been invested in the company since its inception by venture capital firms like Viola and Vintage, as well as corporate venture funds like those of Intel, Samsung, VMWare, and Deutsche Telekom.

This is not Qualcomm's first acquisition in Israel in the field of communications. In 2014, the giant paid $300 million for Willocity, an Israeli startup that developed a chipset designed to improve the Wi-Fi browsing ability of devices.