BridgeWave, E-Band cited as major millimeter-wave players despite upheavals

Two companies cited by a new research report as "major players" in the millimeter-wave market have undergone major restructuring in the past year. MarketsandMarkets cited both BridgeWave Communications and E-Band Communications in a report on millimeter-wave components, but both vendors gained new owners within the past year after apparently facing financial struggles due in part to the small cell backhaul business taking off more slowly than expected.

BridgeWave was quietly acquired in late 2013 by Remec Broadband Wireless, which has manufactured its radios since August 2008. According to a document filed with the FCC on Dec. 6, 2013, by Radio Physics Solutions, all BridgeWave production had at that time been outsourced to Remec for manufacturing in the Philippines, and BridgeWave had released the majority of its U.S.-based support staff.

Though neither BridgeWave's nor Remec's website made any announcement regarding an acquisition transaction, a Remec job posting that was placed in February 2014 on LinkedIN stated, "Remec Broadband Wireless acquired BridgeWave Communications in December 2013."

Wireless industry consultant David Theodore also reported on his blog in March 2014 that BridgeWave was acquired the previous December by Remec. A source told FierceWirelessTech that Remec was owed a considerable amount of money by BridgeWave prior to the takeover.

Last year, Moseley Associates of Santa Barbara, Calif., announced it was acquiring--for an undisclosed amount--the assets, intellectual property rights and key employees of E-Band, which launched in 2003.

Radio Physics Solutions noted in its FCC filing, which urged the commission to provide more rules guidelines for companies wanting to use spectrum above 95 GHz, that E-Band was essentially "liquidated through asset sale to Mosely."

E-Band made a splash in 2010 when it became a key backhaul infrastructure supplier for Clearwire's WiMAX network. However, Clearwire's subsequent shift to TD-LTE, which caused the carrier to stop building out the WiMAX network, negatively impacted many of its suppliers, including E-Band.

Both BridgeWave and E-Band also pursued the small cell market, whose reality has so far fallen short of early expectations. Stephane Teral, principal analyst for research firm Infonetics Research, recently noted: "The great small cell ramp did not happen in 2013 as many in the industry had hoped. Testing activity remained solid, but actual deployments were modest."

Nonetheless, MarketsandMarkets cites BridgeWave and E-Band as two "major players" in its new report on millimeter-wave components. The research firm predicts the total market for millimeter-wave components will reach $1.9 billion by 2020, representing a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45 percent from 2014 to 2020. In addition, volumes are estimated to grow from 22,000 units to 691,000 thousand units during the period.

The majority of applications involving millimeter waves used frequencies between 20 GHz and 120 GHz during 2013, MarketsandMarkets said. Aside from mobile and telecommunication products, other millimeter-wave applications include scanning and imaging as well as radar and satellite communications.

MarketsandMarkets also predicts the small cell backhaul market will grow from $587.5 million in 2014 to $2.08 billion in 2019, at a CAGR of 28.8 percent during the forecast period.

In related news, Agilent Technologies just announced enhancements for its MXA and EXA X-Series signal analyzers, one of which directly targets millimeter-wave use in telecom. An option for its MXA allows engineers to measure millimeter-wave signals and up to terahertz without having to buy a separate high-end analyzer.

The company said this capability is essential for accurate signal analysis as carrier frequencies shift toward millimeter wave and higher in modern applications, such as backhaul connections for wireless communications.

"Engineers are facing a number of challenges as they begin working in millimeter-wave and higher frequencies, including more accurately identifying and measuring weak or previously unknown signals, as well as achieving a higher level of frequency stability," said Jim Curran, marketing manager for Agilent's microwave and communications division.

For more:
- see this MarketsandMarkets release and this release
- see this blog entry
- see this Agilent release

Related articles:
Backhaul: Vubiq enters market as E-Band is acquired
Microwave gear vendors ready to invade millimeter-wave market
LightPointe 60 GHz backhaul radio includes 5 GHz backup plan
Small cells driving surge in microwave and millimeter-wave backhaul
E-Band fills coffers to build small cell backhaul biz

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