Movandi, a developer of 5G millimeter wave (mmWave) technology and RF systems solutions, this week announced the appointment of William (Bill) Ruehle as its chief financial officer, as the company plans to scale up on the back of growing momentum in mmWave solutions.
Ruehle has a track record of managing successful IPOs, including that of Broadcom, where he was from 1997 to 2006. Now, as Movandi prepares to scale up to serve the growing demand for 5G mmWave technology, and with a possible IPO at some point in the not too distant future, the company is strengthening its management team and advisory board.
In an interview with EE Times, Maryam Rofougaran, CEO and co-founder of Movandi, said, “We’re going to grow very fast in the next two years. Globally mmWave in both 5G and non-5G has been gaining a lot more momentum, and we are seeing a lot of interest in our mmWave solutions – the customers we have been expanding what they are doing with us.”
In the U.S., Movandi has an exclusive partnership with Verizon to deploy its 5G solution to U.S. consumers. As part of this relationship, last October, Movandi announced the deployment of a 5G extender indoor smart repeater built on its BeamXR mmWave technology, a smart active repeater solution that amplifies coverage and closes the gap in 5G mmWave deployments. It is designed to penetrate physical barriers in urban environments and amplify mmWave coverage in public spaces and inside buildings.
Movandi has raised $70 million in funding to date and employs over 75 people. Rofougaran said, “Now we are growing to the next phase, this is the time to prepare for scaling, and we are also strengthening our advisory board. We’ll probably need to do another fundraising at some point and the plan is to do an IPO. Bill has been helping us over the last few months, and now coming on full time.”
She added, “With Bill’s extensive background spanning both semiconductor and system technology for numerous fast-growing companies, Bill is an ideal fit for Movandi as we further solidify our position as the leader in 5G. Bill is one of the most experienced and seasoned CFOs in the tech industry and has taken companies to IPO and grown them to become much bigger global companies. I couldn’t be more pleased to work with Bill again and welcome him to our leadership team.”
As a CFO, Ruehle has led two very successful IPOs and many acquisitions in the tech sector. Ruehle joined Broadcom Corporation in 1997 and managed their successful IPO and revenue growth. When he left Broadcom in 2006, the company was a key player in wireless communications semiconductors with revenues of $3.6 billion and a market cap in excess of $20 billion. Prior to Broadcom, in 1987 he was the CFO of SynOptics Communications, Inc. and led their IPO in 1988 and the merger with Wellfleet in 1994 that created Bay Networks. In his nine years there he helped drive the revenue growth from $2 million to $2 billion.
Ruehle said, “Movandi is an incredible company. This is the second time I have the opportunity to work with what I believe are the most innovative and performance driven teams in the world, who hold almost 1,000 patents between them. I was first introduced to Maryam and Reza when I acquired their company Innovent while at Broadcom in 2000 and watched them grow Broadcom’s wireless business to over a billion dollars and shipping billions of radios per year. They have been at the forefront of wireless innovation for decades and I look forward to helping them scale the Company as it enters its fast growth stage on a global basis going forward.”
Ruehle has been serving as the CFO of Bitvore, an early-stage SaaS (software-as-a-service) company applying AI technology to the financial services industry. Previously, he was CFO of ClariPhy Communications and completed a successful exit as a sale to Inphi Corporation in 2016. Ruehle was invited to join the board of directors of Inphi in March 2017 and is still a member.
The promise of mmWave
Most 5G launches globally so far have relied on mid-band spectrum, with very few exceptions. But as adoption increases and more consumers and diverse services migrate to 5G networks, these will need spectrum across low (e.g. 700 MHz), mid (e.g. 3.5 GHz) and high (e.g. mmWave) bands in order to deliver enough capacity to support the full 5G experience.
A recent report from the GSMA highlights that, due to the massive spectral bandwidth available, mmWave bands are key to meeting high traffic demand and at the same time maintaining the performance and quality requirements of 5G services. So far, mobile operator bids in auctions for mmWave bands have not been as high as for lower frequency bands.
Low-band spectrum (sub-1 GHz) supports widespread coverage across urban, suburban and rural areas and helps support IoT services. 5G services will struggle to reach beyond urban centers and deep inside buildings without this spectrum. Mid-band spectrum (1–6 GHz) typically offers a good mix of coverage and capacity benefits. The majority of commercial 5G networks so far are relying on spectrum within the 3.3–3.8 GHz range. Other mid-band spectrum that may be assigned to, or refarmed by, operators for 5G, includes 1800 MHz, 2100 MHz, 2.3 GHz and 2.6 GHz.
Because of the massive amount of spectrum that they can offer, the report adds, mmWave bands (24 GHz and above) will be crucial to meet high traffic demand at high network speeds to maintain the performance and quality requirements of 5G services. In particular, mmWave can be a robust solution for meeting demand for enhanced mobile data services as well as new use cases that would be challenging or very costly to deliver using alternative spectrum. Currently, 26, 28 and 40 GHz have the most international support and momentum.
In 2019, the World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-19) revised the international treaty that governs the use of spectrum frequencies to include several mmWave frequency bands for use in 5G mobile services, with around 17 GHz of spectrum identified in total globally or regionally for 5G in the 26 GHz (24.25–27.5 GHz), 40 GHz (37–43.5 GHz), 50 GHz (45.5–47 GHz and 47.2–48.2 GHz) and 66 GHz (66–71 GHz) ranges.
Despite its potential, the utilization of mmWave in mobile has had to overcome major technical challenges: mmWave signals travel relatively short distances compared to signals of lower-frequency bands; can be susceptible to attenuation from trees and other obstacles; and have difficulties in penetrating concrete building walls (often necessary to reach indoors). However, the continued growth of mobile data traffic plays to the strengths of mmWave bands, as mmWave can accommodate more capacity and bandwidth than any other band.
The report says that while commercial mmWave 5G networks have already been launched in three countries as of the end of Q3 2020 (US, Japan and South Africa) mmWave 5G solutions are poised to achieve more scale.
It adds, “We expect that between 2020 and 2022, mmWave equipment will experience a significant cost reduction and incorporate marked technical and operational improvements – these include advanced beam management, higher peak rates, multi-user MIMO, higher effective isotropic radiated power (EIRP), lower noise-figure, and fronthaul sharing. In the longer term, new flexible solutions are expected to add more capacity when traffic grows and boost performance around a given cell.”