Tarana Wireless says its fixed wireless access (FWA) gear is better than other providers’ because it has created silicon, software algorithms and its own antennas from scratch, specifically designed for FWA.
Dirk Gates, President of Tarana Wireless, said the company created a “clean-sheet design” specifically for fixed wireless outdoor, point-to-multi-point. “It's taken a decade and $400 million, which is insane, but the results are phenomenal,” he said. “That's what's allowed us to really take this leapfrog approach to the solution.”
Tarana installs a mini-base station, or remote node, about the size of a paperback book on the side of a customer’s house. This remote node has 64 patch elements for a good-sized antenna. And it installs its base nodes on a tower to communicate to multiple remote nodes.
Each of its base nodes can serve up to 250 homes, and there can be four base nodes on a tower, allowing it to serve up to 1,000 homes.
Gates said what makes Tarana’s equipment unique is that the base nodes and the remote nodes run very complex algorithms, allowing it to do things such as beam forming, interference canceling and multi-path signaling.
Beam forming allows Tarana’s antennas to steer energy and direct the beam from the remote node back to the tower and vice-verse in the most effective path.
In terms of interference canceling, Gates said, “By having the large antenna array, we have very good spacial awareness of where RF energy is coming from.” And the spacial awareness through the algorithms allows it to detect on a very frequent, 200-microsecond basis, where the energy is coming from. If it's not coming from the tower, then it's interference. And Tarana is able to digitally erase that by throwing a null in the direction of the interference.
The Midwest based, wireless internet service provider Wisper Broadband is using Tarana’s gear. Wisper has about 220 employees.
Nathan Stooke, CEO of Wisper Internet spoke with Gates on a recent YouTube video. Stooke said that non-line-of-site capabilities are “kind of the holy grail for ISPs.”
Tarana’s gear, which uses 5 GHz and CBRS spectrum, can also take advantage of multi-path and reconstruct the signal even if it’s been bounced off obstructions.
Gates said a lot of other vendors that provide FWA equipment are trying to repurpose Wi-Fi equipment, which was built for indoors, and they’re retrofitting it to use outside. He calls that equipment “Wi-Fi derivative.”
And then of course, there are the big wireless carriers that are using LTE and 5G. Gates said, “That’s designed for mobile applications and smartphones, not optimized for a symmetrical link.”
Of W-Fi derivative and 3GPP approaches, he said, “They’re short-cutting the process by trying to take that technology, that silicon and applying it to fixed wireless. It doesn’t provide you a real solid alternative or complement to the wired technologies of fiber.”
Tarana’s mission is to close the digital divide through next generation fixed wireless, and even though it’s taken a long time to create its technology, its timing might be perfect considering all the billions of dollars that are about to flow from the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act.
Stooke said, “Even if we had all the money in the world and we said 'go deploy fiber everywhere,' you're still talking decades before it gets done. It’s just a timing thing.” He noted how quickly Tarana's FWA equipment can be deployed.
Gates said Tarana is “now, all of a sudden finding ourselves in a place where we went from literally zero customers to hundreds of WISPS” using the product. “It's been an interesting cultural transformation to go from just being deep R&D focused on product only. Now we're focused on customers.”