For a team as experienced as the one behind Ataya, it seems a little odd calling the company a “startup.”
Founded in 2021, the private 5G company emerged from stealth mode about a year ago and certainly qualifies as an up-and-comer even though its founders include industry veterans from the likes of Cisco, Ruckus, CommScope, Broadcom and Qualcomm.
Named after the Atayal people of Taiwan, the company’s stated mission is to build a “universal connectivity” industrial platform that’s simple to use, secure, scalable and application-aware.
That “universal connectivity” platform is responsible for much of Ataya’s success, according to Puneet Sethi, SVP of Products, who came on board a year ago to oversee the company’s commercial launch. He previously worked at Qualcomm and Mavenir.
“I don’t see anybody else so far in the industry offering that,” he told Fierce. “Yes, we are 5G from a cellular technology perspective, but we take care of the pre-existing brownfield networks as well,” which could be Wi-Fi, Ethernet, LoRA or Sigfox. In other words, “they could be anything,” he said.
The spectrum Ataya uses depends on the geography being served. For example, in the U.S., it’s using the Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) 3.5 GHz spectrum for private wireless deployments. He said Ataya is in trials with big wireless carriers in the U.S. but it has not announced anything publicly.
The company will be at Mobile World Congress Barcelona from February 26-29, showing off its wares at a booth in Hall 5 and in a meeting room in Hall 2.
Harmony & Chorus
Ataya’s first product, released last year, is called Harmony, and “we’ve been fortunate enough to have quite a bit of success with that,” with deployments across Taiwan, Japan and other markets – for more than 25 deployed globally, he said.
Next up is Chorus, a standalone 5G access point that was unveiled this week. It’s designed to eliminate the complexities and high costs that have traditionally hindered the adoption of 5G in private networks, particularly in small and medium deployments.
According to Ataya, the launch of Chorus marks a significant development in the private 5G market. The emphasis on simplicity and lower costs opens up the market for deployments that are out of reach for traditional solutions. Think gas stations, retail parking lots, smart agriculture and public-emergency infrastructure, among others.
The product came about as they deployed Harmony and discovered customers, like construction sites and small factories, that didn’t want to deploy private 5G on a big scale.
“When you look at our 5G solutions, they don’t look like 5G solutions. They look like enterprise solutions, so our enterprise customers are really finding it quite easy to use them,” he said.
Ataya’s customers also include small cell specialist Qucell, which has been working with Ataya Harmony in Korea and Japan, and Opticoms, a system integrator based in Germany. The idea is to allow managed service providers (MSPs) to directly ship Chorus access points to new and existing customers and remotely onboard and monitor networks, lowering the costs for everyone.
Setting Ataya apart
Privately-held Ataya has about 30 employees, most in engineering. The U.S. headquarters is in Santa Clara, California, with another engineering office in Taipei, Taiwan, and salespeople in Japan, Korea and the U.S. The company is venture backed and it is not immediately looking to raise another round, Sethi said.
As for Ataya’s competitors, the usual suspects include Airspan, Celona, HPE and big incumbents like Ericsson and Nokia. But Sethi makes a distinction between its Harmony and Chorus offerings. For example, the main differentiator with Harmony is the ability to merge 5G and non-5G pre-existing networks.
With Chorus, it’s about simplifying private 5G for small-sized deployments, i.e., delivering a turnkey and integrated RAN, core, network management and multi-tenant platform for managed service providers serving small and medium businesses.
In other words, Ataya is on a mission to strike the right chord with customers regardless of their size or generational needs.