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TenXc Makes 2X Capacity Claim

Ontario startup TenXc Wireless Inc. says carriers are about to start trials of its antenna array products, which can increase the capacity of a cellular network without increasing the number of cell sites.

TenXc specializes in array antennas designed to double the capacity of a cell site. Eventually the company wants to embed its technology within the base stations of vendors that serve Tier 1 wireless carriers.

"Currently we're under NDA with several customers and plan to start trials with one operator in the United States in the next couple of weeks," says Joe Hickey, CEO of TenXc, adding that the first carriers are expected to announce deployments in the next month and a half.

"You've got a lot of new applications coming onto the network, and that's creating a capacity crunch," Hickey says, noting a recent speech on the subject by BlackBerry co-CEO Mike Lazaridis. (See RIM Chief: Spectrum Is Limiting Resource.)

TenXc plays in the array antenna space with companies such as ArrayComm Inc. , Powerwave Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: PWAV), and Andrew But analysts say the company differentiates itself with a "drop and insert" design that makes the array easy to install.

"It's truly the whole future of wireless; performance improvement is going to be based on different antenna technologies," says Peter Rysavy of Rysavy Research . "Their offering is interesting because it's achieved in a passive fashion -- it doesn't require active electronics at the top of a tower... It's a way to get a fair amount of bang for your buck."

Current iterations of the antenna arrays support spectrum in the 1900 megahertz range. The company plans to support 1800 and 850 MHz spectrum by the end of the year, with arrays that support spectrum in the 1700 to 2100 MHz range next year.

"What that will allow us to do is to address the 3G advanced systems auction in the U.S., and, with a single product, address the UMTS market in Europe," Hickey says. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is due to auction off a large swath of advanced wireless services spectrum in August.

The company is building products for other wireless technologies, as well. "Products for WiFi and mesh are on the roadmap," Hickey says. "And we're quite bullish on WiMax." Those products will be available next year, according to the company roadmap.

TenXc is venture-funded, with $18 million to date. Lead investors include VenGrowth Investment Fund Inc. and JK&B Capital . The company expects to close Series B funding toward the end of 2006 or early in 2007.

In terms of future plans, Hickey says, "There are three main types of outcomes for a startup: You can have an IPO, you can fail, or you can exit on the M&A route. Nine out of ten successful startups go this last route. So you can do the math."

— Carmen Nobel, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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