Verizon this week disclosed it’s working with Movandi, tapping the startup for its millimeter wave repeater technology to extend 5G coverage, and on chipset tech to boost service for the carrier’s 5G Home customers.
Founded in 2016 by siblings Maryam Rofougaran and Reza Rofougaran, the Irvine-based startup has moved quickly to develop its tech, raising $66.7 million to date. It previously hinted at work with major U.S. operators aggressively deploying mmWave, but with Verizon’s it’s now official.
Movandi will provide “cutting-edge” extender technology to expand mmWave coverage in public spaces, in homes, and buildings, according to Verizon’s announcement. The carrier also named Pivotal Commware and Wistron NeWeb Corporation as partners, the latter of which is an ODM leveraging Movandi’s mmWave IP within its solution. In addition to expanding coverage indoors and out, Verizon said extenders enable more customers to add more devices on the network.
Details were not disclosed in terms of about how many units are being deployed or when. Movandi co-founder and COO Maryam Rofougaran said their product is finished and has been going through extensive field and lab testing, becoming commercially available “very soon.” It’s also completed FCC qualification.
Movandi’s been working with Verizon for at least two and half years in terms of its BeamXR active repeater technology, according to Craig Ochikubo, Movandi SVP of Business Development and Marketing. In the early days, that was focused on convincing the carrier it was a better, more cost-effective way to deploy the network, which he feels has been validated with the public announcement.
Joe Madden, chief analyst at Mobile Experts, previously told FierceWireless he was impressed with the speed the startup was able to raise money and develop a high-performance design. In many ways, Movandi is even outperforming giants like Qualcomm in terms of RF Amplifier efficiency, Madden said.
There has been skepticism about the ability to economically deploy mmWave 5G, mainly because of costs associated with the number of small cells required for meaningful coverage of the short-range signals. To achieve LTE-like cell coverage with mmWave 5G, Movandi believes its solution can help deliver something on the order of 75% reduction in capex, alongside reduced opex compared to fiber-fed small cells.
One differentiator for Movandi, according to Maryam Rofougaran, is the programmability and smartness of its repeater tech. The company builds its own chips that go into boxes and can allow 5G synchronized network relays. It enables programming “in a way that they can either make a narrow band on the relay or make it widespread and shape the beam” as needed. It also supports a mesh configuration, something that’s part of Movandi’s roadmap.
Movandi CTO, co-CEO and co-founder Reza Rofougaran, speaking about its BeamXR repeater stated: “The one thing that is missing from all of these is that Movandi’s solution is a complete system-on chipset for relays and repeaters, which includes RFICs, ASICs, controllers, and algorithms. Movandi chipsets are also used for radio heads, as well as radios for 5G modems such as CPE. We make a complete system-on-chip," he added.
The company had already been actively supporting companies with a baseband solutions, including NXP, who is partnering with Movandi again for their work on chipset technology for Verizon’s 5G Home.