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The Six Five In the Booth with Movandi Corporation at Mobile World Congress 2022
by Daniel Newman | March 8, 2022

Six Five hosts Daniel Newman and Patrick Moorhead talk with Movandi Corporation Co-Founder and CEO, Maryam Rofougaran and Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, Taher Behbehani. Their conversation focuses on RF and how Movandi is innovating and optimizing their technology solutions to meet the evolving needs of the 5G ecosystem.

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Transcript:

Patrick Moorhead: Hi, this is Patrick Moorhead with Moor Insights & Strategy, and we are here for another Six Five Podcast in the Movandi Booth at Mobile World Congress 22 in Barcelona. I’m here with my awesome co-host Daniel Newman, but more importantly executives from Movandi, Maryam and Taher. How are you?

Maryam Rofougaran: I’m good. Thank you.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. Can you believe we are back at an event and it’s like, it’s almost a complete event, not kind of 25%, 50%, but it’s, I would say good 85%.

Maryam Rofougaran: No, I have to admit, I did not expect this and I’m so glad to see, it’s really good to get with people face to face and actually get the ideas, et cetera. So it’s great.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. Well, we had met over Zoom, over a year ago and the first time I’m thinking, gosh, I hope she’s not disappointed.

Maryam Rofougaran: I’m actually very, very happy to see you.

Patrick Moorhead: Oh, there we go. There we go Daniel.

Daniel Newman: It’s always great. It’s always great. I mean, when I met Taher for the first time, it was at a crowded NRF event.

Taher Behbehani: That’s right. That’s right.

Daniel Newman: That kind of stuff happens. And then you go for a few years and it actually feels normal to not be around people and so it’s almost like we’re re-acclimating ourselves to the real world of events. And if next year we get to a point where we can do these without the masks, it would be even more awesome. But hey, let’s talk about Movandi, right? Since we’re here in the booth, Maryam, I guess as CEO or leading this company, give us a little bit of the background because you guys are doing some really interesting stuff, but I don’t think every one quite knows that yet. So what’s the skinny?

Maryam Rofougaran: So Movandi was founded by some expert and innovators from Broadcom. We have assembled the world’s best mmWave and generally RF team in the world. We have a lot of IPs and ideas innovations. We have about 90 patents that we have filed and about 88 of them actually have been issued already. If you compare us with other companies, you don’t find too many companies who have as much core technology as we have put together. We have significant amount of core tech all the way from the chip sets that are needed for these applications, as well as software and system and algorithms that have enabled us to help with some of the technology solutions that our partners are making for example, in the smart repeaters, which are fundamental in addressing challenges in the mmWave coverage, et cetera. So we have optimized our solutions, our technology to provide the best performance, improve the range, add risk coverage challenges, and also provide the most flexibility in terms of different configurations that you can put together in different devices.

Patrick Moorhead: Yeah. We’ve been researching 5G I think since my company was born about a decade ago and one of the things that absolutely came to the top was just how hard RF was in 5G. In 4G, 3Gs, all the other Gs, it was almost, I wouldn’t call it an afterthought, it was very difficult. But when you get to 5G, the complexity and the bands and the beam steering, it gets super, super complex. And I know you have the engineering background and run the company, I know you know this better than anybody, but let me flip this over to Taher. Great technology, but what does this mean to the 5G tech, the ecosystem, the bigger picture in 5G.

Taher Behbehani: So, very important, so thanks for acknowledging this. The best team in the industry bar none, that I have seen, and you know I invested in the company a while back, very happy about it. Two, incredible intellectual property, very unique, extremely differentiating. So the problems that Movandi’s team has managed to solve, the solutions that we bring to the marketplace make 5G deployments possible. They make it cost effective. They make it easy, not only for the consumer side of the business, but also for the enterprise side of the business. So we are at the time when 5G is beginning mmWave, 5G is finally beginning to take off and we’re happy to be here and we sense it. We feel it, the energy’s here. So we have been at the forefront and now we see the pipeline being generated, the demand increasing, the interest is there. So we’re very happy and we enable market.

Patrick Moorhead: It’s awesome.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, it’s funny you mentioned mmWave and taking off because, that’s been one of those areas where 5G is not all created equal. Now you hear that in a lot of different instances, not all created equal in terms of how it’s utilized, how it’s deployed, but also the fact that super blazing, fast 5G experience, it really is the mmWave experience and we need to see that at scale. Now, another company that’s been really singing that same praise has been Qualcomm. Qualcomm is emphatic about the fact that mmWave is the future of 5G. It’s not to say that sub-6 isn’t important in terms of deploying it at scale, but you guys, Maryam actually announced a partnership this week with Qualcomm, talk about what the announcement was and what that means.

Maryam Rofougaran: So basically, we have the same exact vision with Qualcomm and us believe that mmWave can bring a lot to the picture. We believe that’s the ultimate promise of 5G and everything has to go there. So we are collaborating on the shared vision that we have together. Now, if you combine their small cell with the FSM 5G RAN that they have developed, with our repeaters together, smart repeaters that we have developed. You put that together, you can ensure that you can deliver, you can make sure that you can extend the coverage, all this penetration issue, everything that everyone talks about, and you accelerate the deployment. Because remember these things, I say things because I really look at them as things. Eventually I see those little smart computers going everywhere, right? They can ensure that you don’t need fiber. So you do have small cell, you extend the range and extend the coverage.

And they’re so easy to install and that’s the goal and the vision that we both have. We want this market to grow to that level. We want to see this solution to become almost like, at the end of the day, become like wifi mesh that you see everywhere, and I believe it could go there. So they have the cell phones that have 5G service. They’re going to expand on that, they’re going to have the small cells. We’re going to be in between and making sure that this whole ecosystem can be delivered. So again, shared vision, joint go to market together, and also the synergy and testing and all this stuff that we can do. So we want this market to grow at the end of the day.

Patrick Moorhead: Right, well, huge benefits for both companies. And it took me about five seconds to figure out your value prop, especially for mmWave. And you have value in mid-bands and a lot of the other stack, but with 5G mmWave, it really hits. And we’re not even talking about theory, this is reality. You have deployments, right? There’s a lot of companies that we research that are still in theory mode, but you have multiple installations out there. And maybe Taher, you can talk about some of the use cases that are out there, maybe the ones that are already installed or maybe some of the ones that have more of a future element to it.

Taher Behbehani: So, we have been deployed, tested, certified in different networks. It’s not been easy, let’s just say that, but we have done it. We’ve come a long way. We’ve done it alone to a large extent so far. Very happy that Qualcomm recognized us, endorsed us and now promoted us as a partner. It’s a big deal for the industry. So it makes everyone win out of this. Our service providers are very, I think, are going to win out of this for the reasons Maryam mentioned, faster deployment, lower cost deployment, the end users, whether it’s consumers, us, working off these 5G phones or the enterprise, they’re also going to win out of this. Lots of use cases.

I have to tell you, one of the surprising elements of this industry for us has been, we’ve seen a more rapid interest from private networks, which you see in this show. Industrial applications, robotic applications, warehousing and logistics have been very big. More recently, we are happy to tell you that we are also seeing autonomous vehicles get into the picture. Many of them recognize that you have to have Sub-six, but mmWave, to make these vehicles long lasting and basically in the industry for 15 years or beyond. So we are now talking in all of these applications. So this is really good. We sense that we’re at the time the market is beginning to take off for the industry.

Patrick Moorhead: Excellent.

Daniel Newman: Now you mentioned though, I guess we’ve spent a lot of time here talking about mmWave, but you guys aren’t ignoring sub-6. You just mentioned it and like I said, I believe that there may be some plans on the reference design side for you guys to offer some smart repeaters in the Sub-6 range. Is that something that you guys are also looking at?

Maryam Rofougaran: Right. So again, we have established ourselves to be sort of the leader in this mmWave. So operators, our partners, whether it’s through our partners or ourselves, they come to us whenever they see challenges. And not to mention, that we have just announced by the way, WNC dual-band, 28 39, the indoor repeater and we work together, we have delivered that [inaudible], the split outdoor repeater, all that. But they have been showing this, they have been actually doing trials with operators and during this process because they’re global, they do get the feedback that look, we’re having almost, not the exact same challenges, but they’re having challenges with sub-6 as well. Because again, frequency changes from almost twice as much as it used to be in LT and path loss and penetration, everything becomes.

So we do get that from directly the operators working with, and from the partner companies saying, can you help us, because sub-6 has some challenges? We want you to take what we have in mmWave and take it to sub-6 and do the same thing with the repeaters. And sub-6 is different, right? Many people look at it as almost upgrade of what you had in 4G. And so there have been some solutions that people have been using in 4G and they have delivered stuff in sub-6. However, the MIMO support in sub-6 is a challenge. So even if people have done put something together, 2X2, 4×4, forget it, no one has it. Even the 2×2 that they have delivered, it’s not necessarily supporting the rank and MIMO, so that’s something that we come in.

So people, when they have issue, they come in and because I know we’re innovating doing all this kind of stuff and we have been working on it. So that’s something that we are basically working on and we would be having solutions later on. And even beyond that, even when it goes to small cells, et cetera, we have had companies coming to us and saying, how can you make this lower power? And because as I mentioned, we’re not just a repeater company, it’s our technology as a whole that is enabling repeater, but exact same kind of core technology or chip sets and antennas, everything is used in CP, small cells, et cetera. And so people see it and say, can you make the rest of these things lower power, more integrated? So again, we’re at a place and we have proven ourselves and we have shown our capability throughout this whole journey, that we get these kind of requests and we’re basically in the process of looking at them and working on it.

Patrick Moorhead: It sounds like a tremendous amount of opportunity. It’s funny, so I’ve been learning a lot about sub-6. It was kind of billed as, oh, this is going to be easy, broadcast everywhere, and it’s not ending up to be true. There are a lot of, like you talked about, certainly there’s still challenges in mmWave. And in fact, on your website, even though I didn’t do this research, it was a good piece of research that showed for mmWave, 10% of the cost of a Genode B, you could put one of your repeaters in. And I’m expecting in particular, I think mmWave for the rest of the world hit in this show. It’s been in the US, micro deployments, but this is where I think it’s just going to take off because 5G and the whole, I would say vision of it was a full stack, basically three different layers of the cake for all of the value to come in. So I know we’re talking about sub-6 here, but 5G mmWave still has a tremendous way to go here.

Maryam Rofougaran: I completely agree. I mean, and some of the research that some your colleagues from Nokia, everywhere, there is a whole lot that have been done. And we all know, I mean, look at everyone, even the operators, everyone agrees that sooner or later and we would say sooner, meaning in a couple of years, sub-6 cannot provide what’s needed to basically support the capacity. And especially in some areas, more dense areas, et cetera. So we agree with that. And we all know that at the end of the day, many locations will have both compliments, sub-6, as well as mmWave. That’s what’s you are going to see in the future. I’ve been in this industry for a long time to have seen many things. I was talking to, before this and I was explaining, we have constantly over the past 20 years, seen things that people have said is not possible to do.

Starting with putting radios in bulk CMOS, making SOCs with combo connectivity going into the cell phones. And now we’re facing the same thing, right? People are looking at this and saying, this penetration issue, the cost of it. But I can tell you, we actually see a lot of companies, not only on the technology side, we actually see a lot of companies on the business side of it are coming up with a lot of innovative ideas to make the TCO, the cost of the deployment and everything together, come down. And I can assure you it’s going to happen.

Taher Behbehani: The fundamental technology that the company has worked on can be applied to different bands. And if a carrier or service provider has a layer cake approach, which they all do, which is the right way of doing it and they can make their own selection, how they want to go after what spectrum, that’s all fine. What I think what’s important to note is we have solved a number of different problems, engineering problems, tough ones, that can be applied to different spectrum. We actually went and solved the most difficult one first, which enables a lot of applications to take place and now we’ll apply it. We’re able to help anyone. And in fact, the strategy is to go different spectrum, different components, offer a whole range of solutions so they can pick and choose power, frequency, size, and application. So that’s really important.

Daniel Newman: Well, I definitely appreciate the opportunity to speak with both of you guys here. It’s a lot of fun. I love the fact that you said that people have constantly doubted what we are capable, even going against the grain of what popular sentiment is. And so this seems like another one of those things where you guys are taking a chance going out aggressively, but of course also attaching yourselves to a trend in 5G and in terms of connecting the world more successfully, that is only going to grow in demand in the coming years. So thank you both for joining us for this Six Five in the Booth here at Mobile World Congress 2022. It’s fun and by the way, we look forward to coming back and hearing about your newest and the next things in 2023.

Taher Behbehani: Thank you.

Maryam Rofougaran: Thank you.

Taher Behbehani: Good to see.

About the Author

Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio