Interview with Maria Lema, Co-Founder at Weaver Labs: The ‘Sonos’ For Networks

Weaver Labs is a startup looking to democratise and decentralise access to telecoms infrastructure through technology such as 5G and blockchain. By digitising public and private assets, we can start building open and decentralised telecoms networks for smart cities and create innovative supply chains.

Essentially, we’re creating a virtual economy in real-world settings for the public and private sector to operate in. The end goal is to establish an open, public and decentralised network that serves as the engine of a marketplace of connectivity assets. This open, public network creates a complete decoupling of infrastructure ownership and service provisioning, breaks silos of networks, and knits together existing telecoms assets.

Our product is Cell-Stack, a software platform that digitises telecoms infrastructure assets and offers them “as-a-service” in the marketplace. Anything from lamp-posts, traffic lights, bus shelters, and a fibre network to an entire wireless infrastructure is aggregated in a pool of resources that are offered in a Network-as-a-Service portal.
 
 
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How did you come up with the idea for the company?

 
The idea for Weaver Labs first came about when I was leading the 5G Tactile Internet Lab at King’s College London, which gave me the opportunity to work with great professionals and cutting-edge technologies. During that journey, I met my co-founders, who introduced me to the concept of Blockchain and Web3.

We thought telecoms and decentralisation combined had the power to make a significant impact on the industry, especially since it was opening up and evolving from something very monolithic to something open and integrable. The idea was sparked, and we set about creating Weaver Labs.

We believed that there was a space for Weaver Labs to impact the industry and help break the silos that exist in telecoms. We arrived at the opportune moment. Since our launch, the UK Government has introduced a number of strategies to test the impact of 5G and telecoms investment business models, help tackle diversification in the telecoms supply chain and increase pace of infrastructure roll-out. Our product is aligned with government priorities and we hope that our involvement in the market will continue to increase.

An integral element to this journey has been developing our relationships with customers and collaborating with other organisations and companies to achieve these goals. We have been working closely with both the private and public sectors to build these relationships, test our product and execute our solutions.
 

 

How has the company evolved during the pandemic?

 
The pandemic has of course had a significant impact on many of the sectors that we’re innovating in – because of this, Weaver Labs is continually evolving in order to reimagine the telecoms sector and align our strategy with government priorities too. For example, COVID-19 has exposed health inequalities, how we navigate our cities and triggered a shift in mindset towards digitisation. By creating a culture of connectivity, our product solves a problem that exists in the telecoms sector.

Networks need to be integrated, and new players must be incentivised to invest in infrastructure. Our innovative software may be technical but is designed to make it easy for our target audiences to share and manage infrastructure assets that are required to deploy networks. Given that we are creating something unique, we hope that the positive impact we are making will continue to increase and expand.

Furthermore, the pandemic has heightened the need for and accelerated the rollout of cloud and open networks. As these continue to become more prevalent in our networks, cybersecurity is vital and must evolve. We adopt a ‘don’t trust anyone’ mentality with our Zero Trust approach. Our Cell-Stack product is secure-by-design and offers the ability to ensure this approach. As Open Standards and Open Interfaces become a reality in mobile networks, interoperability will become the new standard. With these changes will come a more diversified supply chain, and, consequently, this Zero Trust approach will become even more important.
 

What can we hope to see from Weaver Labs in the future?

 
Our imminent plans are to make the transition to a fully decentralised network using Cell-Stack, namely Cell-Network. We’re moving from distributed to decentral by building the Web3 protocol layer on top of the peer-to-peer (P2P) network (where all nodes are equal and act as both “servers” and “clients”, sharing resources). This will enable the decentralised network-as-a-service business model, based on tokenised economies. A blockchain layer will take on the role of governance of the decentralised marketplace, and the token is the currency used in the ecosystem of Cell-Network.

We do all this by working with the telecoms sector – for this to work, continued adoption is key. Since the very beginning at Weaver Labs we have been working with all our stakeholders and refining the requirements and features of Cell-Stack to make sure we’re meeting and converting the market’s needs. We plan to do the same as we move into blockchain, launching our token and NFT (non-fungible token) platform.

Looking further ahead, Weaver Labs wants to take our ambitions and turn them global, through the creation of a global blockchain network to decentralise access to connectivity by reducing barriers to entry to new players in the telecoms sector. We hope to have an active role in contributing to change supply chain dynamics, removing barriers to infrastructure investment where the demand is met and there is a viable ROI to innovate and invest in new technologies.