Where it's based: U.S. headquarters are in Scottsdale, Ariz.; European headquarters are in Ulm, Germany
When it was founded: 2005
Why it's Fierce: Can a small startup fundamentally change the way base stations are designed? Ubidyne is well on its way to doing just that through active antenna technology--an offering that has the power to dramatically reduce both capital and operational expenses for operators while maximizing bandwidth and helping to save the environment.
Ubidyne is a mini-Qualcomm of sorts. In the late 1980s, Qualcomm convinced the industry that CDMA could be applied to mobile networks after many engineers said it would never work. As Ubidyne operated in stealth mode in 2007, it too faced many naysayers who claimed active antenna technology wouldn't work.
Today, the industry agrees that active antennas are the future of mobile radio. Vodafone and Verizon Wireless want the technology in their base stations, and three major OEMs--Alcatel-Lucent, Nokia Siemens Networks and ZTE--are incorporating it. More likely will follow as Vodafone, which helped Ubidyne create specs and push the design, requires its vendors to incorporate Ubidyne's uB900 active antenna system in their products.
So how does Ubidyne's system dramatically change the economics of the mobile industry? Ubidyne has developed its own application-specific integrated circuit that allows its active antenna system to function without bulky coaxial feeder cables and the remote electrical tilt assemblies and additional amplifiers on antenna towers and masts. The result: a technology that significantly reduces energy consumption while improving radio performance, deployment flexibility, coverage and network capacity.
Active antennas use closely attached amplifiers to receive signals before they travel along a transmission line, where signals are typically plagued with interference. According to Ubidyne CEO Kent Hawk, half the signal is typically lost when it travels through the coax. All an active antenna base station needs is a fiber-optic cable and a DC power cable, and GSM, UMTS, HSPA and LTE can all be incorporated in the same box that is mountable on a wall.
What's next: Vodafone is requiring the use of the technology, which in Europe will be initially deployed in the 900 MHz refarmed band. Verizon will be incorporating the technology for its 700 MHz LTE deployment. The kicker: Hawk said capex will be slashed by one third, while operating costs can be reduced by half. Volume production of active antenna base stations is slated for the end of this year, with volume shipments coming in the second quarter of 2011.