Last week, the news broke that Ceragon (News - Alert) Networks Ltd., a top wireless backhaul specialist, had received initial orders for its FibeAir IP-20C solution, which was launched only weeks prior. In a statement last week, the solution was described as a “new generation of multi-core, packet radio solutions,” and was selected by an esteemed expert within the backhaul and wireless space, PEG Bandwidth.
While the harsh winter season is slowly on its way toward warm recovery, today’s economy has unfortunately remained quite frigid and inflexible, where acquisitions and attritions continue to affect businesses worldwide. The fact that Ceragon has received business only weeks after launching its solution despite this unwelcoming economy bears more meaning than most know, and I was able to sit down with executives from both companies to discuss this announcement in more detail.
In my discussion with Chuck Meyo, president at Ceragon North America and Christopher Pickard, CTO at PEG Bandwidth, we discussed how this announcement positions Ceragon in today’s industry, these companies’ rich history and working relationship together, and what both expect to see in the space this year.
Now that a proper congratulation has been given to the company for its achievement, Meyo explained to me that going beyond the initial excitement, Ceragon continues to strive to recognize industry needs and directly address them. “It’s been great,” he says. “I think as a company, though, we’ve recognized the need for higher capacity and microwave solutions for a while. We knew that [IP-20C] would have a huge impact on [PEG Bandwidth’s] network, and I think we were right. Not only are we excited that PEG has adopted it, but it’s been really outstanding feedback from our customers and our partners. So we’ve been very happy about it.”
Ceragon’s solution highly complements PEG’s extensive, 12-state fiber network due to “its ability to deliver unmatched capacity throughout the backhaul network at a low total cost of ownership (TCO),” the official statement says. But what else can we learn about what makes this solution one-of-a-kind and truly a breakthrough in the space?
“The product really is a perfect fit for the North American market,” Meyo continues, adding that a lot of issues today in North America are associated with 4G and LTE, where the iPhone (News - Alert) has consistently dominated consumer phone culture for years now. In fact, as of last year, research shows that nearly 50 percent – or half – of all Americans owned a smartphone, where Apple’s (News - Alert) iPhone clearly displayed market precedence. While data demand has grown exponentially, capacity is now suffering, Meyo says, and that’s where the company’s new solution shines.
With IP-20C, Ceragon is able to generate “super high capacity.” Meyo continues, “The product we’ve introduced is really a very disruptive product in this market. It’s the first product to combine the multi-core radio with very high modulation, while at the same time, being small and compact. It solves a lot of the higher capacity issues many have, provides higher system needs and drives down on a lot of the operational costs because of its smaller, compact footprint.”
So in increasing the capacity of the network while at the same time lowering its operational costs, Ceragon’s new FibeAir IP-20C seems to be the perfect match for PEG; however, Pickard was able to elaborate on even more reasons why the company invested in Ceragon.
“Obviously the technology was a good fit,” he explains. “High bandwidth is a real big need for us because we serve areas that are traditionally underserved by bandwidth.” PEG takes pride in building on America’s more rural areas, where both consumers and industries alike are oftentimes slighted when it comes to enjoying reliable bandwidth, he notes. PEG sees rural broadband as a unique and innovative opportunity for growth, and the company – while relatively new – has done just that.
“As we build for the onslaught of LTE (News - Alert) rollout, which is going to offer higher bandwidth to users in those rural areas, we build a very strategic network, and the technology we see in IP-20C is very important to provide bandwidth to those rural areas.”
What many may not know is that these two companies share quite a history together – and a successful one at that. PEG has been in the wireless industry for some time, but when the company first ventured into the space, Ceragon was there. “Not only have they been a great technology partner and are continuing to be so with their innovations, but they’ve been a very strong partner for other services as well.” All of this, Pickard notes, is what ultimately made the decision very easy for the company once the technology was made available.
So what do these key industry players expect to see as the biggest challenges, opportunities and/or trends in the space in 2013?
Regarding the biggest room for opportunity and growth, PEG clearly continues to see the undeserved areas of the world (ie. rural, tier 3) as being a perfect fit, and the company will continue to heavily invest in putting lots of infrastructure in those locations. “What we see happening next is bandwidth increasing, and that bandwidth is not just the bandwidth to mobile devices (ie. smartphones, tablets), but also to some of the fixed locations where people use the LTE network to bring broadband to their home,” Pickard says. “As we build out this infrastructure, I think what we’re going to see this year is that those bandwidth demands are going to call for us to be more innovative.” Pickard also says we can expect to see a rollout of carrier-class Ethernet in 2013 to many macro-cell locations, as well as wireless carriers focusing more heavily on the operational cost of doing so.
Meanwhile, Meyo cites one challenge in the space being the ability to simply keep up with bandwidth demand. “That’s continually going to be a challenge in the industry – being able to move as quickly as subscribers and the adoption of these data applications are happening,” he says, adding that it’s also important to look at the metropolitan areas – such as Manhattan, Atlanta and Dallas – as well as those that are more rural. “These are things I know the industry is struggling with, and things I think will continue through this year. We are seeing a lot of different solutions being brought out on the market.”
Speaking of, there are a plethora of untapped opportunities and solutions in this space that can significantly help, Meyo notes, such as the cloud and small cell technology. “They all have a role, but one of the most challenging pieces is figuring out how to put them all together.”
So continuing to look ahead in 2013, what else can we expect to see from these two busy companies?
Pickard tells us to look out for PEG at the upcoming Comptel show, a premier tech trade show, where the company looks forward to sharing even more with its customers. As for Ceragon, Meyo divulged that the company is very excited to see what will happen with the continuation of its IP-20C portfolio, and it encourages its customers to keep an eye on what will happen in that space. The company will also be revealing expanded components of its portfolio solutions, so there’s plenty to be excited about as we move ahead throughout the year!
Edited by Jamie Epstein