Runcom Races Into Mobile WiMax
Founded in 1997, the company has so far kept a low profile in the WiMax sector, a surprise move in light of its market knowhow. In 2000 Runcom introduced its proprietary Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) technology, initially targeting the Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB) space.
Five years on and OFDMA technology is now widely recognized as the basis of future mobile WiMax deployments. The mobile WiMax 802.16e standard is expected to be ratified by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc. (IEEE) in the next few weeks, with commercial deployments touted for launch around the 2007/2008 timeframe.
With ratification still pending, the South Koreans are pushing ahead with their own home-grown mobile variant, known, unhappily, as WiBro. And it’s here that Runcom has scored some early success.
The vendor has won a deal with Samsung Corp. for the supply of its silicon into the Korean company’s WiBro devices. A staunch supporter of the technology, earlier this week Samsung demonstrated handoff between WiBro basestations at speeds of up to 80 MPH (see Samsung Mobilizes WiBro).
“We’ve had deals with Samsung going for more than three years which have generated much more than $10 million already in revenue,” says Runcom’s Oren Elkayam, VP of strategic business. “That was our first major success and customer.”
Following the Samsung deal, Elkayam claims the company has scored “two additional manufacturers in Korea that are focusing on a base-station solution.” He notes that both companies are “subsidiaries of the two main operators," KT Corp. and SK Telecom (Nasdaq: SKM).
With Korea cracked, Runcom pursued the Japanese market for WiBro and now cites “three corporations” as signed customers.
Elkayam adds that the vendor will next week release its sample 802.16e SOC (System-On-a-Chip) for client devices, putting it a year ahead of competitors such as Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC). “As a silicon provider it is good to have the technology, it’s good to have a system that is working, and it’s good to have OEM manufacturers to work with. Runcom’s advantage over others is that we are first to market with a solution.”
Of course, the true measure of Runcom’s success lies in its potential to grab market share in European and U.S. markets once work on mobile 802.16e deployments is underway. “It’s important to promote this technology worldwide,” admits Elkayam. “We have approached the U.S. market and are trying to progress slowly but steadily.”
— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung