5G and Beyond

Pivotal Starts Shipping 5G Repeater to Verizon

Startup Pivotal Commware has finally started shipping its Echo 5G 28GHz millimeter wave (mmWave) subscriber units to Verizon.

The Echo 5G subscriber unit is a fixed wireless repeater that a user can attach to a window. The product is designed to counteract mmWave penetration, reflection and structural shadowing signal losses so that the highband connection can flood an interior with a mmWave signal.

Pivotal Echo 5G Unit

Pivotal Commware CEO Brian Deutsch tells Light Reading that Pivotal has actually been shipping units to the carrier since mid-December, but decided to announce it today. The CEO is not allowed to name the operator yet. There is a joint release planned from the two companies.

Light Reading, however, got some external confirmation that the Echo 5G is a Verizon product. Brian Geommer, president of spectrum analyst firm Allnet Insights, said that it appeared to be a Verizon device based on the gadget's FCC documentation. "The frequency bands specified are the L1 and L2 channels in the 28GHz band," Geommer commented, noting that indicates licenses owned by Verizon.

"Pivotal has never made an official announcement but I am 100% sure it is Verizon," agrees Daryl Schoolar, principal analyst at Ovum.

The Pivotal CEO says the firm will follow-up with a 39GHz product -- presumably for AT&T -- in April or May.

There is no word yet, however, on how much these early units cost. "The goal is to get something out that's sub-$300," Deutsch explains. In the meantime, these first consumer units are headed for retail stores.

Why this matters
This unit could be a boon for Verizon -- and other carriers -- delivering fixed millimeter wave 5G. Operators with services in such spectrum have been beset with problems because highband often signals can't penetrate grass hedges, walls and glass, particularly glass designed to minimize the amount of infrared and ultraviolet light that comes through your windows, which is known as low-E glass.

Deutsch claims that the Pivotal repeater can shoot mmWave signals "80 or 90 feet" into a room, not something that would happen with standard mmWave equipment. The next big step will be getting the price down to a reasonable consumer level.

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— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

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