How Is This Company’s Technology Enabling New Markets?

How is this Company’s Technology Enabling New Markets?

In this Q&A, Abhishek Kapoor talks about his new position with Anokiwave, the company’s goal of commercializing active antennas for 5G and other applications, and more.

Can you tell us about your position with Anokiwave?

I am the Vice President of Sales at Anokiwave. My role is to build a sales team and sales channels to globally reach and support companies developing active-antenna/phased-array architectures for 5G, satellite communications (satcom), and radar applications. We provide enabling integrated-circuit (IC) technology that makes commercialization of active antennas possible—something that was not possible before. My key focus is to build, enable, and manage a sales team that closely works with all customers—big or small—and helps them complete their active-antenna designs.

Abhishek Kapoor, VP of Sales, Anokiwave

The adoption of active-antenna architectures for 5G, satcom, and radar applications is happening very fast. To support this growth, we continue to expand fast. My goal is to reach every customer across the globe who’s trying to do a millimeter-wave (mmWave) active-antenna design and help them at an IC level, as well as system level, to build their solution. We are already on a path to doing that.

We started with a small team five years ago and today have a growing direct sales team, worldwide distributor, and more than 10 regional sales representatives covering all key regions across the globe. We recently opened our Taiwan office to provide close sales and application support to our Asia Pacific customers, and we continue to add more people in sales and application engineering roles.

What made you want to join the company?

One of the key reasons to join Anokiwave was to be part of a team that’s thinking big, different, and truly enabling new markets. While a lot of traditional players now talk about how active antennas will become prevalent in mmWave 5G, satcom, and radar markets, Anokiwave is the one that started the action. The company saw a growing need for commercialization of active antennas years before the rest of the market and took the risk of standing out and developing ICs to enable this market.

Most of the microwave community looked at Anokiwave skeptically and questioned our approach. But with a clear focus and a committed team, Anokiwave continued to make a difference—and that’s the kind of culture I wanted to be part of.

Anokiwave has a clear market focus of commercializing active antennas, proven technological leadership with the broadest portfolio of Silicon Core ICs available today, and a truly inspiring management team and culture. The culture at Anokiwave is unique and a great fit for me. Everyone here is motivated, works as a team, and goes above and beyond to make a difference. It’s a small company and so it’s agile—there’s no bureaucracy and very action-oriented. I believe most of the industry still underestimates us, which we like. We have a very diverse mix of young, as well as experienced, people working together equally to innovate in new ways that I have never seen before. It’s an honor to be part of this very experienced and motivated group of people. Every day I learn something new and we challenge each other in new ways.

The company is founded on our core principles of respect, collaboration, accountability, and innovation, and you can see these values being reflected by every Anokiwaver, each day. Personally, to me, these values matched exactly with mine, and so it was almost a no-brainer to join the team.

What applications are you focused on?

As I mentioned before, our over-arching company goal is to commercialize active antennas to enable a new world of mmWave 5G, satcom, and radar. From an application perspective, we are addressing each use case within these markets, ranging from, but not limited to, active-antenna-based mmWave 5G infrastructure, CPE, satcom ground equipment, satcom-on-the-move, airborne connectivity, military radars, and many others.

We continue to see customers utilize our Silicon Core ICs for multiple new applications, such as sensing and over-the-air testing, which continues to surprise us. But it’s clearly evidence of the fact that active antennas are truly becoming mainstream in microwave and mmWave design, and we are glad to be on the leading edge of providing the enabling ICs and supporting these developments.

What do you expect to see in the near future in regard to 5G?

Well, I would like to begin by first noting that October 2018 marked a foretelling milestone in the microwave industry when mmWave commercial 5G truly became a reality. Since October, it’s no longer a question of if or when 5G will be used, but rather how fast?

On Oct 1, 2018, Verizon started offering mmWave 5G as a commercial service. You can go to Verizon’s website and sign up for it. This is fantastic because despite all of the skepticism concerning mmWave frequencies and whether they can propagate properly, the only commercially deployed service today is mmWave 5G in the U.S.—not the sub-6-GHz that everyone expected. This is a watershed moment for the industry, as it answers the key question about the technical and business viability of mmWave 5G.

Going forward, we see an explosive growth in 5G use cases. We expect to see all major operators accelerating their mmWave 5G deployments in all three bands: 24/26, 28, and 39 GHz. All tier 1 and 2 original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), including the ones who were initially not convinced about the mmWave 5G earlier, are now ramping up their developments.

We expect to see a rapid growth of active-antenna-based mmWave infrastructure products, CPE, and even portable consumer devices. Within each of these categories, there will be subcategories of products based on form factor, portability, and power requirements. And each application will require a variant of underlying ICs to meet the power, size, and heat requirements. We are already hearing from the market that mmWave smartphones will be available starting in 2019.

Can you tell us about what Anokiwave is doing in terms of 5G Communications?

We are enabling the commercialization of phased arrays/active antennas in all forms and use cases of 5G communications. We started with a focus on 24/26-, 28-, and 39-GHz Silicon Core ICs for infrastructure products and provided learning platforms, or ready-to-use arrays, to help the market get started.

Now that the market has momentum by itself, and as we have gone through the technology learning and implementation curve, we are hyper-focused on continuing to improve performance, to offer multiple variants to meet the unique requirements of each use case within 5G, and most importantly, to drive the cost down to what we call “ultra-low-cost” ICs.

With silicon-based ICs, we continue to innovate and lead the market in performance, digital functionality, cost reduction, and thermal management. With innovation on these fronts, we expect mmWave active-antenna technology to become ubiquitous and that by 2020, every network operator, every OEM, and likely every UE manufacturer will be using active antennas in high volume. This market is moving faster than anyone predicted, and we are prepared to address every use case within the 5G applications.

Lastly, Anokiwave recently opened an office in Taiwan. Can you talk about the reasons behind that?

Absolutely. We opened a new sales office in Taiwan to provide close sales, application engineering, and operations support to all customers in the Asia Pacific region. One of the key philosophies of Anokiwave has been to support our customers at a system level. For us, we feel it’s our responsibility to work closely with our customers from the time they identify a need, through their design process, and then during and after production.

A local presence allows us to work even closer and support our customers by minimizing delays due to time differences, eliminating bureaucracy, minimizing language and cultural barriers, and most importantly, providing direct face-to-face support. We expect to continue to build our team in Taiwan and other locations in Asia in the coming year, as we are seeing very strong pull from the market.

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