Sweden's Sivers buys 5G mmWave startup MixComm for $135M

Sivers Semiconductors announced it will purchase startup MixComm in a transaction worth $135 million. The move represents an investment by Sweden-based Sivers into the market for 5G in millimeter wave (mmWave) spectrum bands.

Sivers is a fabless semiconductor company that's publicly traded in Stockholm. It designs complex chipsets and then sells those designs to other silicon suppliers or directly to large electronics manufacturers. The company currently focuses on two main business areas: 5G and fiber.

Sivers' purchase of MixComm – which is based in Chatham, New Jersey, and counts 20 employees – represents an attempt by the company to double down on the mmWave flavor of 5G. Wireless network operators have been quickly deploying 5G across the globe, but most have focused on installing 5G in their lowband and midband spectrum holdings rather than in highband, mmWave spectrum. That's because mmWave 5G signals often cannot travel more than a few thousand feet, and typically cannot penetrate buildings and other objects.

Nonetheless, Sivers CEO Anders Storm said that "most of the world is going to start rolling out" mmWave 5G. During a conference call to discuss the merger, he also pushed back against the notion that Verizon – one of the world's primary proponents of mmWave 5G – is pulling back from the technology.

US operators like Verizon and AT&T were early supporters of the mmWave flavor of 5G, but have begun shifting their focus to midband 5G. mmWave proponents like Qualcomm have argued that the technology will soon be rolled out by operators in locations including China, Russia and South Korea. However, early reports from South Korea at least indicate tepid support among operators for mmWave 5G.

MixComm was founded in 2017 and has raised roughly $15 million in venture capital. It operates on the same basic business model as Sivers: designing chips and then selling those designs to other companies. According to Sivers, MixComm so far counts 18 chip design wins, and counts customers such as Cambium, an unnamed "tier one" 5G infrastructure customer and an unnamed "major" US communications service provider.

Sivers believes the purchase of MixComm puts the company on better footing to compete with the likes of Qualcomm, Analog Devices and Movandi. Sivers now touts 5G mmWave products ranging from basestations to repeaters to fixed wireless Internet hotspots to backhaul equipment.

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Mike Dano, Editorial Director, 5G & Mobile Strategies, Light Reading | @mikeddano

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