More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul

The list of startups developing small-cell backhaul products just got longer as two new companies have cropped up.

Light Reading Mobile has been keeping track of the startups and relative newcomers that are seeking to challenge the established infrastructure vendors in the small-cell backhaul market, and the latest to appear on the scene are Tarana Wireless Inc. and CBF Networks.

Small-cell backhaul is all the rage and the opportunity for startups is clear: If operators are going to deploy outdoor small cells across their networks to boost 3G or 4G capacity as well as coverage, then they are going to need a high-capacity, inexpensive, reliable system to provide transport links back to their core networks. It's a technology gap that many new companies are hoping to fill, ahead of bigger players putting their R&D muscle into product development. (See Startups Rush to Small-Cell Backhaul and Major Carrier: Small-Cell Backhaul Must Be Cheap .)

"Every vendor and possibly their parent, brothers and sisters are trying to get a play in the small-cell backhaul market," according to Shayan Sanyal, chief commercial officer at Bluwan S.A. , which is one of those wireless backhaul vendors.

Here we have compiled a list of new small-cell backhaul companies that we know of so far with as much detail as we could dig up on them:

  • Tarana Wireless -- According to the company's website, Tarana is working on "the industry's first wireless non-line-of-sight, point-to-multipoint, Gigabit wireless backhaul solution." It also says that the company is backed by a "strong investor syndicate," and that the funding secured will enable it to increase its staff from less than 20 employees, which it has today, to more than 50 in the next couple of years. And it's hiring: Tarana is looking for a systems software engineer, a network software engineer, and a DSP engineer.

    Tarana's founders are graduates from the University of California, Berkeley. The company did not respond to Light Reading Mobile's request for information.

  • CBF Networks -- The scant details Light Reading Mobile obtained about this new company were gleaned mostly from job ads on LinkedIn. Here's an excerpt from one of the job postings: "The director of wireless system engineering will be the technology leader of an exciting and fast paced startup team that is developing a revolutionary new product architecture for fiber network extension including backhaul of mobile cellular base station sites." The company is also described as a "venture capital funded early stage wireless startup," in another job ad for a senior RF design engineer. The company is also recruiting a senior wireless embedded firmware engineer.

    Kevin Duffy, a former CEO of Proxim Wireless Corp. , is named as CEO and co-founder of CBF Networks, which is located in the San Francisco Bay area.

    [Ed note: Thanks goes to our reader "allip" for bringing this company to our attention.]

    And here's a refresher on the other startups and relatively new companies in backhaul that Light Reading Mobile has covered:
  • BLiNQ Networks Inc. – Started in June 2010 after acquiring intellectual property and assets from Nortel Networks Ltd. . The company has raised US$7.4 million in Series A funding from New Venture Partners LLC , Summerhill Venture Partners and the Business Development Bank of Canada . Blinq's CEO is Carleton Miller. (See BLiNQ Secures $7.4M , BLiNQ Backhauls Small Cells and BLiNQ Optimizes Backhaul.)

    Blinq has developed a non-line-of-sight system that operates in sub-6GHz time division duplex (TDD) spectrum. The backhaul hub and remote modules can be configured as either point-to-point or as point-to-multipoint.

  • Bluwan -- The company was spun out from Thales SA (Paris: TCFP.PA) in 2005 and has a point-to-multipoint microwave system for wireless backhaul and broadband access. The products operate in 42GHz TDD spectrum.
  • Cambridge Communication Systems Ltd. -- This startup is working on a multipoint-to-multipoint microwave system with SON capabilities that operates in 26GHz, 28GHz, 32GHz and 42GHz frequency bands using TDD or frequency division duplex (FDD) spectrum. The company's founders are John Porter and Steve Greaves, who also started Adaptive Broadband Corp. (Nasdaq: ADAP) in 1998 and Cambridge Broadband Networks Ltd. in 2000.

  • DesignArt Networks -- The Israel-based chip startup has designed backhaul support into its LTE system-on-chips (SoCs) for small cells. (See Chip Startup Spurs Small-Cell Backhaul and DesignArt Beefs Up Small-Cell Backhaul.)

  • LightPointe Communications Inc. -- This 13-year old Free Space Optics (FSO) company has developed millimeterwave products for the 70GHz and 80GHz frequency bands that boast 1.2Gbit/s speeds over a distance of seven miles. (See LightPointe Gets Into Small Cell Backhaul and LightPointe Intros 80GHz Backhaul.)
  • Siklu Communications Ltd. -- The Israel-based millimeterwave startup closed a $19 million Series B funding round, in which Qualcomm Inc. (Nasdaq: QCOM) joined as an investor. The company said it will use its new funds to develop picocell backhaul products for LTE. (See Qualcomm Invests in Small-Cell Backhaul Startup and Siklu Raises $19M.)

  • Sub10 Systems Ltd. -- Founded in 2010, the millimeterwave startup acquired a wireless product line from Huber+Suhner Inc. in August this year. The products operate in the 60GHz frequency band and can deliver up to 320Mbit/s over a 1-kilometer distance. The company is targeting the 4G small-cell market with its high-capacity radios. (See Backhaul Startup Makes Millimeter-Wave Splash .)

  • Taqua LLC -- This once Class 5 switch vendor is looking to get onto the small-cell backhaul scene with a non-line-of-sight system that uses 2.5GHz or 2.6GHz TDD spectrum. (See Taqua Debuts Backhaul System and Taqua FAQua.)

    — Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

  • Notremos 6/12/2013 | 11:11:00 AM
    re: More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul CBF Networks trades as Fastback Networks.
    Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:48:10 PM
    re: More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul

    Where's the next new tecnology coming from in small-cell backhaul?

    jakeridden 12/5/2012 | 4:48:08 PM
    re: More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul

    I checked the link: Major Carrier: Small-Cell Backhaul Must Be Cheap

    and Frank Rayal laid down the law, "To deploy small cells two things must be solved: interference management between the macro and micro cells and the backhaul cost. The backhaul must be easy to deploy and the marginal cost is low, and better yet, a declining marginal cost. So, the more backhaul links, the cheaper per link cost. NLOS wireless backhaul fits this bill."

    Also, "Most people confuse low cost with the cost of equipment. But in the business cases I looked at, equipment often comes down to below 10% of the total TCO."


    I'm curious how these companies address these issues. Seems like more info is needed on the start-ups. 







    Michelle Donegan 12/5/2012 | 4:48:07 PM
    re: More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul

    More info is needed about these companies, I agree.&nbsp;

    As for the story, Major Carrier: Small-Cell Backhaul Must Be Cheap, I think the important bit is this:

    "Backhaul is one of, if not&nbsp;the, biggest challenge for small cells. Operators are faced with many technology options for backhauling small cells, but they do not yet know which the best technology for the job.

    Indeed, when&nbsp;Light Reading Mobile&nbsp;asked Sutton, he said, "the jury's out -- it's very early days." [Ed note: Time to break for lunch, then...]"

    Not the lunch part, although I am starting to think about my turkey dinner tomorrow...It's that the UK's largest mobile operator is saying (or at least is not saying publicly now) that it doesn't know which technology is the best bet for small-cell backhaul.

    That's what makes this area dynamic and interesting. I don't think that there will be one technology winner here, but there are many options and operators appear to be open to just about everything at this stage.&nbsp;

    Joe Schraml 12/5/2012 | 4:48:07 PM
    re: More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul

    Michelle - you completely missed BridgeWave Communications as one of the up-and-coming vendors in the small cell backhaul arena. BridgeWave's PicoHaul product provides full-duplex Gigabit speeds using the 60 GHz millimeter wave spectrum, and most importantly for small cell backhaul, does it in a unique, unobtrusive package designed to blend in with urban environments. In fact, it recently won a 4GWE/Mobility Zone Product of the Year award. While not a startup (some of the companies mentioned are not either), BridgeWave is the first to bring high-capacity, GigE&nbsp;small cell connectivity to 4G networks.

    jakeridden 12/5/2012 | 4:48:05 PM
    re: More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul

    I think the 60GHz (or frequency above 10GHz) is a good fiber extension solution, but not a dense micro/pico cell deployment solution because you need line of sight.&nbsp;

    To get line of sight you'll probably have to pay a lot of rent per month for the optimum retail space.&nbsp;

    This will drive up your op-Ex, which will be the down fall to your solution.&nbsp;


    Also, I think operators don't know which solution will be best because they don't build the equipment--they just test and buy equipment.&nbsp;

    Let me know your thoughts.&nbsp;



    allip 12/5/2012 | 4:48:01 PM
    re: More Startups Target Small-Cell Backhaul

    1. As "jakeridden" pointed out below, I fail to understand how Bridgewave /Siklu/Lightpointe falls directly in the category of small-cell backhaul where the output from the small cells will be in the 100-200Mbps range and a high capacity like those provided by the above vendors are not required in addition to the LoS issues.

    Having said that the above companies are good fit where fiber in some form or the other (direct, RRH, DAS) is used to backhaul from the small cells / RRH.

    2. Wonder how differnt are the products from Cambridge Broadband / Cambridge Communications with both targetting similar PMP models for the same freq bands

    3. One company which is missing from the above list is Exalt, which is also working on the small cell NLOS backhaul (recently hired ex Navini guy as VP of Engg) and E-band based products. They do seem to have a wide range of products but sometime wonder if they are streching too thin...

    I wouldn't be surprised to see some variants of NLOS product offerings from Bridgewave / Aviat / Ceragon soon.

    One thing is for sure, there won't be a single solution for this market, but besides Fiber (if available) true NLOS based solution would be the most appropriate for this market and as Frank mentioned Inteference avoidance/management (spectrun re-use) would be a key aspect...Blinq and Taqua definetly have more matured products as compared to CBF/Tarana/Exalt etc....

    One more thing we can never rule out is WiFi...no matter how much we love/hate them it will be a key part of the eco-system in the small cell backhaul.



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