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May - 2009 - issue > Top 10 most promising technology companies

Wavesat: Taking a lead on 4G

Christo Jacob
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Christo Jacob
Forget 3G; it’s now time to think 4G. While all the service providers like Verizon Wireless, Sprint, T-Mobile, Clearwire, and AT&T are thinking big on 4G – securing a 3G or 4G market position by attracting consumers early with a new level of service; equipment manufacturers and vendors such as Samsung, Nortel Networks, Alcatel, and Nokia-Siemens Networks are becoming increasingly active in mobile wireless broadband. But, the Canadian chip firm Wavesat, a provider of advanced semiconductor solutions to the world’s leading carrier and mobile device manufacturers to deploy future-proof broadband services and products, is well ahead in terms of technology. Founded in 1993, as a satellite communications company, Wavesat has for the past 9 years focused solely on OFDM and OFDMA technology giving it a very strong foundation in 4G. The company now makes multi-protocol chip sets that can process signals from a variety of 4G cellular networks that are compatible with wireless radio protocols such as WiMAX, Wave2, XG-PHS, and LTE and has already taken a lead.

Wavesat developed amplifiers for satellite communication and that is where ‘Wavesat’ takes its origin. “Five years later, when WiMAX buzz was all around and the confusions about deployment of Orthogonal Frequency-Division Multiple Access (OFDMA) protocols was looming large, Wavesat had already been producing OFDMA solutions for several years unlike its competitors,” says Raj Singh, CEO, Wavesat. OFDMA standards were adopted in the military point-to-point deployments and Wavesat developed chips for the same and already had the first OFDM chip in the market. “And it was easy for us to go for WiMAX deployments,” adds Singh.

Since the company had very relevant and sophisticated algorithmic experience, which met the needs of the 4G technology market, Wavesat mathematicians and physicists were able to adapt easily to a standards-based 4G world. This unique legacy and deep understanding of real world OFDM andOFDMA deployments has provided Wavesat with an ability to bring innovative technology solutions to the market in 4G. “Our history in non-line of sight deployments has been invaluable in helping us provide leading edge 4G carrier class solutions in some very difficult operating environments,” says Singh. The company has been there for the last 14 years and that is where Wavesat wins the confidence of service providers and vendors.

When Singh joined Wavesat, he repositioned the company with a focus on 4G, rolling out 4G products  16d and 16e chips. The company also tweaked its products so that it could run on multiple protocols. This move helped it go to the market in multiple geographies and Singh could discover Japan as their key market, which is technologically sophisticated and demanding. Wavesat’s Odyssey 4G multi-protocol architecture was selected by several leading Taiwanese companies including, Compal, Quanta, and USI for mobile and fixed WiMAX devices. Also Willcom, a large wireless network operator in Japan, uses Wavesat to help develop XG-PHS (a Japanese 4G standard) user equipment.

Unlike its competitors, Singh is very keen on evangelizing Wavesat’s technology. The company understands what the carriers’ expectations are and is able to have deep technical and commercial conversations with the system makers to adopt the technologies that are fit for the market needs. Unlike the other players, Wavesat encourages the entire eco-system, believing that the end usage of the 4G technology provides the best input into the design criteria of the system makers. Singh believes that there is a need to convince the carriers about the technology and the features of the chips used by the system makers. This will help the system vendors to adopt a chipset that is in line with the carriers’ expectation and help both the vendors and Wavesat to win the contracts. Unless the carriers are convinced by the features and adopt and evangelize it, Wavesat as well as its competitors cannot rely only on the system vendors and survive in the market. But Singh confidently says, “Even though all our competitors have WiMAX 4G chips today, Wavesat is the only one that has taken the step to a multiple protocol strategy allowing a single silicon platform to run WiMAX, XG-PHS, and LTE.”

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