E-Band fills coffers to build small cell backhaul biz

E-Band Communications announced fresh funding that it says will enable the company to complete development of its small cell wireless backhaul system. However, the company disclosed neither the amount of the investment nor the name of the backer, which was described as "a new strategic investor from the telecom community."

San Diego-based E-Band is looking to develop products that will exploit the growing interest in small cells. "E-Band's track record of delivering over 5,000 millimeter-wave 80 GHz wireless terminals with outstanding proven network reliability positions us well for addressing the burgeoning 4G/LTE market along with its small cells," said CEO Sam Smookler.

The company has built its business by supplying 70-80 GHz millimeter-wave wireless terminals using Monolithic Microwave Integrated Circuit (MMIC) technology licensed from major defense contractor Northrop Grumman. In July 2010, E-Band became a key infrastructure supplier for Clearwire's (NASDAQ:CLWR) WiMAX networks, and its 80 GHz Gigabit Ethernet wireless point-to-point systems were initially deployed by the operator in Chicago and Philadelphia.

E-Band has been fairly quiet of late, with its most recent product announcement being made more than a year ago when the vendor indicated it was expanding its focus internationally. In February 2011, the company announced its E-Link 1000Q radio, which it said is designed for dense urban LTE networks, "making it particularly attractive for carriers needing to upgrade infrastructure in metropolitan areas of Europe and Asia."

As for its prior funding, E-Band attracted $10 million in Series B financing during December 2007 from Reliance Technology Ventures, ADC Telecommunications, Express Ventures, Hercules Technology Growth Capital, Investec and an unnamed wireless carrier. In May 2009, E-Band raised an undisclosed amount of funding in Series C financing round, which was led by Hercules Technology Growth Capital in collaboration with Avalon Ventures.

The company derives its name from the E-Band of millimeter-wave spectrum that covers 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz and 92-95 GHz. While millimeter-wave radios have more than 1 Gbps capacity, they can only be used over very short distances (about 2 miles) because of the high frequency, making them most appropriate for dense markets where more capacity is needed than what microwave can provide. The millimeter-wave portion of the RF spectrum has been largely unexploited for commercial wireless applications despite the fact that it has impressive performance characteristics and is available on an unlicensed basis in many countries. The spectrum is widely used in defense applications, however.

E-Band's competitors on the point-to-point wireless backhaul front include BridgeWave, LightPointe, Loea, NEC, Proxim, Siklu and Sub10 Systems.

For more:
- see this E-Band release
- see this MobilityTechZone article

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BridgeWave enters microwave backhaul space
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