Private network player Geoverse loses funding

ATN International (ATNI) has stopped funding subsidiary Geoverse, according to people who worked at the company until recently. Former Geoverse staff said many employees of the Seattle-area company have been absorbed by Commnet, a fiber and fixed wireless provider also owned by ATNI. One person estimated four employees remain at Geoverse.

Geoverse still describes itself as a subsidiary of ATNI on its website, but it is not currently included on ATNI’s public list of subsidiaries. ATNI did not respond to emails about Geoverse.

ATN Ventures, the corporate venture capital fund of ATN International, acquired Geoverse for an undisclosed amount in 2018, citing the team’s technical expertise, industry relationships and intellectual property as drivers for the deal.

In 2020, ATNI spent more than $20 million on CBRS licenses. Geoverse was positioned to help its parent company monetize those licenses through private networks, by adding its patented technology to mobile operator core network (MOCN) software licensed from Druid Software.

Geoverse co-founders Rod Nelson and Carl Gunell patented a blockchain-based technology called GeoTrade to facilitate economic transactions between operators of private and public networks. GeoTrade uses distributed ledger technology to track devices’ time and activity on networks, acting as a neutral provider of that information to public carriers and private network operators. The Geoverse team wanted enterprise customers to use the technology to monetize private networks by charging public carriers when subscribers enter buildings and access private networks. 

Since ATNI is a major wholesale roaming partner for U.S. carriers, the GeoTrade technology was a natural fit for the company. Geoverse was able to assure its private networks customers their users would be able to roam onto public networks.

Geoverse customers include the Port of Oakland, the city of Tucson, Caribe Royale Resort in Florida, and 7 Cedars Casino in Washington. The company also said last year it was working on private networks projects in the Navajo Nation, which encompasses parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

Geoverse has been in advanced talks with at least one other municipality, according to a third party involved in those conversations. Although Geoverse has been seeking a new investor for some time, the sudden loss of funding took some partners by surprise.

Juniper is another Geoverse partner. The company has worked with Geoverse to extend existing Wi-Fi networks using CBRS spectrum as an alternative to adding Wi-Fi access points that would require additional wired backhaul. 

Geoverse retains its GeoTrade patent, its customer relationships, and its CEO, co-founder Rod Nelson. Nelson did not reply to emails seeking comment on GeoTrade or Geoverse.