Movandi, founded in 2016 by former Broadcom executives, aims to solve the propagation challenges associated with the deployment of 5G in the higher mmWave spectrum bands. And if you have been paying attention, it’s a big issue as only when high and mid-bands are pervasive will the true vision of 5G be possible. Movandi focuses on a complete set of solutions that include silicon, software, and systems that include radio frequency (RF) chips, integrated antenna modules, algorithms, and reference platforms.
The company made several announcements at Mobile World Congress Los Angeles (MWCLA) this week, and I would like to share my takeaways.
Silicon and antenna enhancements
From a silicon and antenna perspective, Movandi introduced three enhancements that are worth further investigation. The first centers on a new chipset supporting wireless backhaul, 5G New Radio unlicensed spectrum, and fixed wireless access (FWA) applications. The Movandi 60 GHz MV6055 covers the entire unlicensed band between 57 and 71 GHz and integrates 16 channel beamforming with up and down-conversion in one form factor. This capability is significant from my perspective because it reduces the overall footprint making deployment more flexible. Pairing the new silicon with Movandi’s MV3504 synthesizer and antennas also allows operators to deliver fiber-like speeds over 1.2 miles at considerable cost savings relative to laying fiber. The company also announced expanded mmWave frequency support for its BeamXR smart repeater family. These silicon enhancements allow the repeaters to operate within the 24/26 GHz, 28 GHz, and 39 GHz spectrum bands, thus opening up a greater addressable market globally.
From an antenna standpoint, Movandi announced a 5G mmWave phased array antenna module (PAAM) optimized for Open RAN deployment scenarios. As Open RAN proof of concepts continues with some immediate greenfield deployments with Rakuten in Japan and Dish Networks in the United States, this solution could position the company for future design wins. The design blends improvements in radio frequency power efficiency, cost, and antenna count. Power consumption represents one of the significant contributors to an operator’s operational cost structure. Thus these enhancements on the surface seem compelling.
Smarter and more efficient repeaters
By definition, a repeater amplifies a signal, and mmWave networks will require densification to extend propagation. At MWCLA, Movandi announced several enhancements to its 5G BeamXR family of repeaters. First, the company is now supporting solar power, which should allow operators a great degree of flexibility to install repeaters in areas underserved by electrical access. This green capability could undoubtedly be a game-changer, especially in rural geographies. Second, Mondavi plans to provide mmWave indoor coverage with its sub-6 GHz repeater modules that should sample in the second half of 2022. Indoor deployment is a massive challenge for mmWave, given the need for line of sight and propagation contention created by glass, metal, and drywall. Finally, Movandi is partnering with Airfide Networks to support mesh networking for indoor and outdoor use cases. The solution will essentially leverage a cloud-native architecture to cluster 5G small cells with artificial intelligence software to dynamically determine optimal signal propagation routes. In my opinion, the aggregation of these new enhancements could position the company for future success.
Here is the Movandi BeamXR Smart Repeater for moving vehicles discussed below in the Six Five Podcast video:
mmWave is poised to unlock the superpower of 5G from a latency and throughput perspective, but its propagation challenges in the high and mid bands are significant. I am impressed with Movandi’s end-to-end focus in solving these issues for both fixed and mobile applications in a short amount of time. What I also find extremely compelling is the company’s platform cost structure relative to gNodeB which is a 3GPP-compliant implementation standard for 5G New Radio base stations. At roughly half the cost, Movandi is disrupting not only operational expense savings with power management enhancements, but it is also mitigating capital expense outlays for operators. The latter cannot be underscored given the need to densify mmWave network deployments with repeaters and small cells.
MWCLA was a tremendous showcase for the company’s capabilities, and I believe that Movandi could significantly impact the deployment of 5G mmWave networks globally. The company says that its portfolio of 5G mmWave solutions deliver ten times the coverage at only 1/10 the cost of competing alternatives. If those numbers bear out to be true long term, I believe that Movandi could reap the rewards.
NOTE: This article was co-written with Moor Insights & Strategy principal analyst Will Townsend.