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With $52 million in the bank, Acton-based Affirmed Networks says about a dozen wireless carriers are testing its first product

Posted by Scott Kirsner  November 12, 2012 09:00 AM

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Exiting stealth mode today is Affirmed Networks, an Acton startup that is selling a new piece of communications gear to wireless carriers. The company is one I've been following closely since 2010, in part because it has raised $52 million in funding, and in part because it brings together veterans of several high-profile local companies, including Starent Networks, Sonus Networks, Airvana, and Cascade Communications. Also part of the team at Affirmed is former AT&T executive Terry Durand, who'd overseen the launch of the iPhone there.

Affirmed chief executive Hassan Ahmed, right, formerly CEO at Sonus, tells me the company has about 100 employees, and has lined up about a dozen wireless carriers in the U.S., Europe, Asia, and the Middle East who are testing its device, the poetically-named AN3000. Ahmed says he can't yet name any of the carriers.

"As consumers' data usage was growing like crazy, it required capital expenditures for the necessary network infrastructure to keep up with it," Ahmed says. "But our approach wasn't about just building a better box. We wanted to bring more intelligence to mobile networks." That can mean figuring out that you're trying to watch a popular YouTube video, and perhaps serving that up from a cache of commonly-requested files, or noticing that you're trying to download e-mail and routing you directly to the Internet, rather than relaying your request "along a complicated path that involved lots of boxes, before you got to the core of the network and then sent off to the Internet." Ahmed says that Affirmed's approach uses fewer network resources, and also enables operators to easily launch (and charge for) premium services, like higher-quality mobile videoconferencing.

Affirmed's backers include Matrix Partners and Charles River Ventures, two Boston-area venture capital firms.

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Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.

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