One of the biggest challenges in providing good 5G coverage is the cost and speed of deployment of repeaters. Powermat Technologies has announced that its wireless power supply technology is part of the solution, enabling a three-fold cost reduction per 5G subscriber repeater installation.
In an exclusive for EE Times, Powermat said that Pivotal Commware, a provider of 5G mmWave infrastructure products, has integrated Powermat’s wireless power technology into Pivotal’s Echo 5G subscriber repeater. Aya Kantor, VP product at Powermat, told us, “Wireless power is an important part of helping expedite deployment of 5G infrastructure. The biggest challenge is the installation of repeaters. Fast deployment is a big story in 5G, and what we are doing is enabling self-installation of subscriber repeaters using wireless power.” She added that by eliminating the costs of installation of power and repeaters can reduce a network operator’s capex and opex three-fold per subscriber.
Echo is a low-profile, glass-attached repeater installed by subscribers to facilitate in-building penetration of mmWave signals from 5G small cells. Other parts of Pivotal’s mmWave ecosystem include the Pivot 5G outdoor repeater, WaveScape RF planning software, and intelligent beam management system for real-time network optimization and management.
Mobile network operators use Pivotal’s products to help speed up deployment and accelerate “time to revenue” from mmWave mobile and fixed wireless access (FWA) services. Pivotal’s customers include Verizon, with their partnership revealed last year. The U.S. network operator said last June that Pivotal’s repeaters provide an innovative way to efficiently enhance the design of the 5G network and improve service in hard-to-reach areas.
The key to the Echo is not just small size and weight, but a low 15W power consumption. This is low enough to power magnetically through the window glass using Powermat’s technology. This way, the Echo can be powered from an indoor wall outlet as part of a subscriber installation – an important consideration for operators.
“Self-installing subscriber repeaters is a must-have for an operator to meet its business case for deploying 5G mmWave services,” said Brian Deutsch, CEO of Pivotal Commware. “The Echo’s low power consumption opened the door for Pivotal to take advantage of Powermat’s Smartinductive technology. Together, we can help operators overcome mmWave propagation challenges to deliver ultra-high capacity, low latency 5G to millions.”
We asked Powermat how this compares with other wireless power technologies for 5G deployment. Kantor responded, “To date we believe Powermat is the only company that has commercialized this for 5G deployment.” She explained that one of the big challenges is the diversity of glass thicknesses and materials. Powermat’s technology is designed to auto-calibrate for glass thickness for optimum transfer of power from the power supply inside to the 5G repeater attached to the other side of the window.
The company’s CTO, Itay Sherman, continued, “Our SmartInductive wireless power can achieve much higher power levels and adapt to different thicknesses of windows automatically. Nobody else is doing self-calibration over distance.” He said the platform works with lower coupling factors and substantially increases effective range compared to standard inductive solutions which are tightly coupled. The company’s hybrid approach to wireless power bridges the gap between magnetic induction and resonance, providing higher power levels, more spatial freedom, power over longer distances, and data transfer over the wireless power link.
While Powermat may have targeted consumer wireless charging products in the past, the company transitioned to focus on technology development and licensing in 2017. This is better suited to some of the key growth markets it is targeting with its wireless power solution that provide up to 65W of power over a distance of up to 30 cm for 5G infrastructure, internet of things (IoT), robotics, and security applications. Its platform, designed for self-installation, automatically learns the distance between the receiver and transmitter and calibrates accordingly. The result is a dynamic system suitable for residential and industrial 5G repeater installations.
Kantor said these markets are the future for the company. “We are a big believer that 5G is going to be a huge market for us – this will be one our biggest growth segments. We are also targeting automotive, mobility, edge computing, robotics and medical devices. The latter is particularly a good use case for wireless power, especially in critical care and hospitals where for hygiene purposes you need a completely sealed solution. Wireless power is an enabler for such applications.”