PHAZR aims to deliver commercial-ready 5G products in H2 of 2017

The CEO of a company that was recognized at last week’s IEEE Wireless Communications and Networking Conference (WCNC) 2017 as the most innovative startup literally wrote the guidebook on millimeter wave technology.

Farooq Khan, founder and CEO of PHAZR, is one of the authors of a millimeter wave presentation that was introduced at the IEEE show back in 2011. He, along with co-author Jerry Pi, who is currently CTO for Straight Path Communications, presented a tutorial proposing millimeter waves for mobile cellular communications at IEEE WCNC 2011, where they talked about unleashing the 3-300 GHz spectrum.

Since then, the FCC has taken steps to unleash a boatload of spectrum above 24 GHz, and pretty much everybody is talking about incorporating millimeter wave into their 5G offerings.

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Khan left his position as president of Samsung Research America last year to work full-time on PHAZR, which in a relatively short time has developed a 5G network solution that should be ready for commercialization in the second half of this year.

The company already conducted one trial in the U.K. last month and is engaged with an unnamed Tier 1 carrier in the U.S. It’s also seeing interest from the cable industry and over-the-top (OTT) players, according to Khan.   

PHAZR has production-ready systems, and it takes about three months to get a system ready for commercial deployment. “These are not prototype systems,” he told FierceWirelessTech. “These are systems that are ready for commercialization in the second half of this year.”

PHAZR’s approach includes patent-pending beamforming technologies and a router that can be user-installed inside a building that includes a 5G millimeter wave modem and built-in 802.11ac Wi-Fi for instant gigabit/second internet access.

“No one in the industry is taking this approach,” he said. “Everyone is trying to do millimeter wave in the downlink and the uplink, but what we did was use millimeter wave here for the downlink” and it’s using sub-6 GHz for the uplink, which eliminates the need for a power-hungry millimeter wave transmitter in 5G devices, thus reducing cost and power consumption.

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The company has a 28 GHz experimental license for use around its office in Allen, Texas, near Dallas. Specifically, PHAZR's Quadplex-branded product pairs high-band 24-40 GHz licensed millimeter wave spectrum for downlink with sub-6 GHz spectrum for the uplink.

Each 5G cell equipped with its Hyperdense beamforming fires up to 36 beams in elevation and azimuth using 1,152 millimeter wave and 324 sub-6 GHz antennas to deliver nearly 100 Gbps capacity within 200-700 meters non-line-of-sight coverage.

Phazr light pole
The RABACK installed in a residential area.

The system includes PHAZR’s radio base station called RABACK, a router called Gazer and the brains, which the company calls ECCAN, a software and analytics solution that runs on general-purpose commodity cloud infrastructure. ECCAN provides functions such as radio resource management, SON/SDN control and data analytics for radio network performance optimization.

According to the company, the logically centralized control layer enables decisions to be made with global visibility, offering the benefits of C-RAN without the need for fronthaul, which becomes cost prohibitive due to wide bandwidths and large antenna arrays.

PHAZR’s advisers include a who’s who list of distinguished engineers, including talent from the former Flarion Technologies, which was acquired by Qualcomm Technologies in 2006, and the University of Texas at Austin. Former Motorola Mobility chairman and CEO Sanjay Jha, currently CEO of GlobalFoundries, as well as Steve Papa, the co-founder and CEO of Parallel Wireless, are also among the advisers.

Since Khan had a hand in jump-starting all the talk and work around millimeter wave, one might expect to see him seizing the spotlight. But he's more grounded than that, preferring to focus on building the actual systems, because “if 5G millimeter wave doesn’t work, then we will take all the blame as well,” he quipped with a smile. So, he said, “let’s make sure we build a technology that is commercially viable” and is able to get deployed.

Sounds like they’re onto something.