ExteNetExteNet Systems announced the closing of a $128.4 million round of equity financing and the acquisition of SBA Communications' distributed antenna systems (DAS) business.

SBA also is one of the investors in ExteNet, along with SSP Offshore LLC, an affiliate of Soros Fund Management LLC, as well as all five of the company's existing institutional investors: Centennial Ventures, Columbia Capital, Sevin Rosen Funds, CenterPoint Ventures and Palomar Ventures.

The transaction included the transfer of SBA's DAS business, SBA DAS Holdings, with operations principally located in the metropolitan areas of the northeastern United States. Terms of that acquisition were not released.

ExteNet Chairman and CEO Ross ManireConsidering that wireless operators are seeing tremendous growth in wireless data and expectations are for even greater growth, they need solutions to keep the capacity up to snuff. That's where ExteNet comes in.

ExteNet Chairman and CEO Ross Manire says the investment and the assets from SBA will allow the company to significantly grow its business in a manner that supports wireless companies' development of more robust and efficient networks. The DAS architecture and other elements also can improve backhaul capacity.

"We have in essence provided numerous little cell sites, if you will, which will improve radio performance and throughput," he says. 

Outside, the company uses utility and telephone poles, street lights and other existing structures, but it also offers an in-building solution. Called iDuct, the product turns buildings' HVAC systems into waveguides for the RF signal, making it easier to reach all parts of a building with a strong signal.

Manire says the company probably does compete in some ways with cable companies that are providing backhaul to wireless operators, but to date, the cable companies have not done a lot in DAS, although they probably will. "We think the needs for enhancing the network are vast, so we think there are going to be a lot of these types of systems over time," he says.