Published on March 2nd, 2015 | by Alexis Argent
4Gon speak to Mimosa about their Access Point range, the C5 PTMP CPE, future products, Mimosa’s best fit customers, plus much more
David Frith, Marketing Manager at 4Gon Solutions catches up with Jaime Fink, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Mimosa Networks. The pair discuss the Mimosa range of products including the Mimosa A5-360 18dBi, A5-360 14dBi, A5-90, C5 Gigabit CPE and the new Mimosa B5 lite. Also discussed is Mimosa’s use of MIMO technology and who is Mimosa’s best fit customer.
4Gon: Broadcasting from various countries around the world using wireless technology, this is 4G Uncovered, a 4Gon Solutions UK podcast. I’m David Frith, and joining us today is Jaime Fink, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer at Mimosa Networks. Thanks for joining us today, Jaime!
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: Thanks David, nice to be here with you today.
4Gon: So, first question. Please could you give the 4Gon audience a brief history on Mimosa Networks?
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: Yeah, sure. So Mimosa is now a three year old company and we have just released our first products in the last two months. We are based in Silicon Valley and we’re a venture funded company. We really started the company because we saw a huge gap happening in the Internet Access market as well as in what we all look at in the WiFi markets today. That gap was really the ability to get access to better speeds of Internet access as well as in the WiFi market, as most people are very familiar, when they use WiFi it doesn’t often work very well in very high capacity environments. We saw a very interesting opportunity with new technology coming to market that could really accelerate the costs and speeds that we all want to get to in Internet Access, as well as performance in high capacity environments in outdoor wireless networks. We’ve really been accelerating that technology to build out an end to end ecosystem product that enable bandwidth from lower cost locations and data centres all the way down to homes, as well as to smartphones, the Apple and Android devices that we all know and love. So we’re really building out both the fixed Internet access ecosystem as well as a much more improved technology on WiFi access technology as well.
4Gon: That sounds excellent. So moving on to my next question, could you tell us more about the features of your access points, the Mimosa A5-360 and A5-90? How do these differ from APs like ones in the Ubiquiti UniFi, EnGenius and Xclaim ranges?
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: Sure, so the access point technology is probably what I consider the most differentiated set of features at Mimosa, largely because we’re tapping into a new technology that really has not been used in the WiFi market – that is this concept of MIMO technology (multiple in, multiple out). It has been used in the past in all of the other products that you mentioned in low order, or low capacity and capabilities. We’ve been able to harness the power of many more streams of MIMO, starting at 4 x 4 MIMO technology but also being able to enable the latest and greatest in the 802.11 WiFi world of multi-user capabilities. So, these access points will be able to now transmit simultaneously to more users by doing very complex antenna techniques called beamforming. What beamforming allows us to do in these products is send out unique streams aiming the energy at the radios, uniquely at each client. That way, I can reuse that same channel at the same time across multiple clients at once. This is going to solve many noise and interference problems and up the capacity of radios, and we’re going to be doing this in two different applications. Our initial market focus is building out fixed Internet technology where people, especially in developing countries where there is very little infrastructure, wireless is the only way forward. In those countries, we expect that we will see a very high volume of people trying to get on the Internet at lower costs. What this enables is an ecosystem that is probably about a tenth of the cost of trying to use fibre to deliver high speeds. Our goal is to deliver with this technology and the customer premise equipment (CPE) in the fixed world of a CAPEX model somewhere under $130 – $140 dollars US. That will enable very very low cost services of up to 500Mb in burstable Internet speeds to each consumer.
So that’s on the fixed side of the business. On the WiFi side of the business, what we’re bringing to the table is really the highest capacity WiFi access point in the world at this point, largely because of this multi-user and MIMO technology. On a go-forward basis, I think you’ll see that Mimosa will continue that technology to be in the highest capacity as well. Internal to those access points, we’ve done some very special work as well to incorporate sophisticated capabilities. While many access points are now in the enterprise world moving from a controller based enterprise solution to controllerless solution, they’re losing a lot of features and capabilities. What this product, the A5 product series also introduces localised control functions with very sophisticated packet inspection capabilities and subscriber management capabilities. So what you will pick up is many features like the ability to very specifically be able to manage how much Netflix or various different types of streaming services any individual user has as well as be able to set up quality of service for different type of service enablement whether its consumer or business. Its a very sophisticated, smart access point that now can add an individual access point, the most intelligent AP on the planet, but also on a network-wide basis using some of Mimosa’s cloud technology, we can also coordinate channel planning and usage of the mobility of users across the network since you’re building an outdoor network in that fashion.
I should state right now, everything we’re focussed on is outdoor WiFi, particularly the high capacity market . That doesn’t mean we’re fully limited to that capacity going indoors, but that’s where the focus of the company is at this point.
4Gon: OK that’s excellent Jaime. So moving onto my next question…The Mimosa C5 Gigabit Ethernet CPE looks like an advanced point to multipoint solution. Could you tell us more about the best features of this product and why customers should purchase it over solutions from Ubiquiti, such as the Ubiquiti airMax ranges and other point to multipoint solutions?
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: Certainly, so the Mimosa C5 product is really a product that is going to pair together as part of our point to multipoint solution with our A5 product line. The C5, what most people will recognise very quickly is the price to performance on this particular product. We’ve engineered this product to be a sub-$100 product to be able to deliver up to 500Mbs and above to each consumer. So what this means is really low cost capital expenditure, but designed for fibre-like speeds. We have really engineered the product to be able to be low cost, but withstand the kinds of environments that you see outdoors and also work with Mimosa’s fixed Internet access protocols which are part of our synchronised co-location technology in our access points. As part of our fixed architecture, the thing that’s different about us is that we have, as I mentioned earlier, this multi-user MIMO technology. That’s a key feature that the C5 product also supports to help the access points figure out how to transmit traffic down the multiple clients at the same time and get better capacity. That’s the first piece we get to get double the kinds of capacities that we’re used to in the past. Then we also integrate GPS synchronisation into our access points and point to multipoint strategy. What that means is I can now put our A5-360 product, for example, back to back on the same tower and share the same channel with incredible front-to-back isolation between the two products. With the 360 product, the other access points that are more omni-like in their coverage, they’re all synchronised on the same network time using GPS technology. This whole solution, the A5s and the C5s together, coordinate to deliver the highest capacity fixed Internet access solution ever been built. It will deliver fibre speeds for a fraction of the cost to what it would have costly to use fibre in the past, but it will be the most spectrally friendly and spectrally efficient technology when it comes to being able to put more subscribers into the same spectrum by using this more advanced multi-user beamforming synchronisation technology. All together it delivers both the cost I think people are looking for with a much more friendly approach to reusing the spectrum that has ever been done before by anything deployed by some of the manufacturers you have mentioned so far.
4Gon: Ok Thanks Jaime. After looking at the product, it does seem really good with the range that it can reach. Like you said in your previous answer, for certain areas in the world where the cable infrastructure isn’t as good, it’s hopefully going to be really popular.
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: Yeah, we’re building products obviously for a number of ranges, I think a lot of customers out there, ISPs that are in rural areas have really struggled to get all of the features they needed at the right price and being able to manage the spectrum which is always a problem for everybody in the unlicensed spectrum. But we absolutely have also designed this for working in urban areas as well, and that’s why you see a mix of different access point strategies. On the A5-360s we have a very small device that is designed to sit on lamp posts in city areas and be every couple of city blocks, so to speak. There’s a C5 product that we call the C5i (for indoor) that is designed for the developing markets to be able to have the consumer self-install their radio, literally sticking it to their window. This is going to be very interesting in markets where you have tall apartment buildings that have no ethernet or fibre running up and down them. This is very very common in 80 – 90% of the world. So where all the growth of the internet traffic is going to be, this is where we think it’s going to be very interesting. For a low cost, somebody can pick up from a shop down the high street, somebody will be able to pick up that radio at a low cost and put it up, and be able to talk to their wireless ISP to one of those access points up and down the neighbourhood. We think that that urban market is where the market long term is going to be, but right now we’re also building the technology that goes very long distance as well to satisfy the rigorous demands that typical rural and suburban ISPs ask for every day and that we’ve really tried to build an entire portfolio of products from our C5 which is the 20dBi product, the C5 connectorised which will work out to almost any distance that we want by being able to attach the antenna of your choice based on that client’s home systems. Then there’s the C5i indoor which is designed for the urban markets.
4Gon: OK that’s great. So when can we expect to see the Mimosa range of products, and when will they be available to purchase?
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: So we actually introduced our first product in the November time frame. It’s actually pretty much sold out extraordinarily well in the UK in particular. It’s moved volumes extraordinarily fast so we’re really excited to see the user feedback we’re getting on that, and that’s called our Mimosa B5 backhaul product (backhaul 5GHz). That product is designed, so there’s two versions of it. An integrated radio as well as a connectorised radio for long distance applications and it’s really designed, much like the access points are, to be very spectrally friendly and to be able to reuse spectrum by enabling co-location synchronisation via GPS on the same tower locations. So across the network, and at each tower location those products can be synchronised to share the same channel without interference being a problem. Those products are already out on the market, and we’re just battling demand right now as we speak and we’re looking forward to that product doing extremely well. The access point products, we announced them in the October time frame to be available in the late summer time of 2015. We’re on track with that right now and that will be a mixture of WiFi based applications for the A5 products in particular. Then the TDMA side of the business, or the fixed internet access side of the business will have the C5 and the A5 together from the late summer time frame as well. That’s when you can expect both the traditional WiFi and handset compatibility with iPhones, Androids and laptops etc as well as fixed internet access technologies, and then leverage the same hardware technology in the access points of course, and the fixed internet access requires the C5 CPE products.
4Gon: OK great. So do you have any plans for any new Mimosa products, and are there any other developments we can expect to see in the near future?
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: Well we’re always planning for new products and building pretty aggressively. The nice thing about this platform that we’ve built is that it’s extraordinarily extensible into many different sizes and shapes, as well as different frequencies. A lot of work that we’re doing to get more backhaul technology into different frequencies, because you don’t always want to use the 5GHz for backhaul, you might want to use it primarily for last-mile access or last hundred-metres access.
Now in this particular case, I’m happy to announce a new product coming out this week! There’s a new product in our backhaul line that we will be introducing called the Mimosa B5 lite, which is a lower cost alternative, high-performance, backhaul solution that will enable people to go anywhere from typically on the low end (less than a mile), all the way up to about 11 miles of coverage with up to about 600 or 700Mb/s throughput. That’s something that we expect to be debuting in the market around $299 US. It’s something that is highly cost to performance optimised to be able to let people that wouldn’t necessarily be going after a high-end backhaul solution, but are really looking for something competitively priced that’s really easy to install. It will work really well for enterprise applications as well as smaller ISPs.
4Gon: OK thank you. As Mimosa are new to the wireless market, who do you see as your competition and who is your best fit customer?
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: It’s very difficult to answer both of those questions. We definitely are different because we are going after two market strains, but not the same way that anybody else has in either. So I think when you look at companies like Ubiquiti and Cambium, that have very much focussed on rural broadband, yes our products are very attractive to traditional wireless ISPs because we have a very great, high performance to low cost approach that I think is very attractive, especially I think with some of the spectrum sharing and spectrum reuse capabilities that we have. However, our target really is for the fixed internet access market which is growing into markets where wireless can deliver better speeds than cable and DSL and at a fraction of the cost of fibre. So we believe that we are really going after something bigger, and transitioning the wireless IP market to something that is actually going to grow quite a bit more in market segments that people probably never thought that wireless leveraging wifi based technology would be able to do because in the past had technical limitations and spectrum problems to deal with. So on that side of the business I think we’re carving out our own niche and expanding marketing to every area.
On the WiFi side of the business, I do think that this multi-user technology, this high capacity technology is really going to set us apart. I think there’s a lot of guys that have gone after carrier WiFi, and carrier WiFi offloading, and metropolitan WiFi. Those segments have yet to really materialise, largely because I don’t think that traditional ISPs that are putting WiFi out there, they’ve been expected to give WiFi away like it’s free like we all get water anywhere we want to go, so we look at this model and say that it’s broken. You can’t just give away WiFi and expect to be profitable. At the same time, you need to be able to provide courtesy WiFi services to people, so we believe that we’ve come up with a model that can help ISPs monetize their WiFi by providing carrier offloading and mobility offloading services that can be profitable, as well as broadband services in urban areas which will help bring monthly revenues into ISPs that are deploying WiFi, as well as courtesy WiFi hotspots for people that live in the neighbourhoods and subscribe to broadband subscriptions.
So I don’t think anybody has taken that tact to it before, and that’s something that I think will be unique to Mimosa trying to really look at the from a business perspective and flip it upside down and build something that can be very business attractive for ISPs that are looking to get more into urban WiFi and suburban WiFi.
4Gon: That’s great and some really insightful stuff for your targeted audience for your products. So thanks for joining us today Jaime.
Jaime Fink, Mimosa Networks: Yeah thank you David, I appreciate you having us.
4Gon: No problem, it’s been great. This has been a 4G Uncovered Podcast, brought to you by 4Gon Solutions. For more information, please visit www.4gon.co.uk.