Now history’s set to repeat itself as Verizon and AT&T are planning early 5G network launches for 2018, with Inseego devices likely to be amongst the very first options for home and mobile 5G service. We’re [working] engineer-to-engineer [with them] as the technology’s being rolled out. Ashish Sharma: We’ll cover all the different bands. Mondor: There are two options. It will be significantly more than what LTE is able to offer today… And [carriers will be] bringing a lot of the big pipe to the edge and also reducing the latency. VentureBeat: So have you figured out a solution? Your current top mobile hotspot has 24-hour battery life for 4G. This is literally the design and the design tradeoffs, relative to the technology, and the physical form factor. VentureBeat: Will you have hardware in time for Verizon’s initial 5G deployments, or will you be in the second wave? And quite frankly, we don’t want exclusives, because we want to be able to sell our technology to other service providers.
If you don’t recognize the name Inseego, that’s probably because the company’s popular wireless hotspots and home modems have been sold for years under the MiFi and Novatel names. Back when Verizon was rolling out the first 4G/LTE network, I relied on a MiFi to give my laptop, tablet, and 3G phone considerably faster data speeds when I was traveling on business.
Now history’s set to repeat itself as Verizon and AT&T are planning early 5G network launches for 2018, with Inseego devices likely to be amongst the very first options for home and mobile 5G service. I spoke with Inseego CEO Dan Mondor and CMO Ashish Sharma to learn what we can expect from the first consumer 5G devices, and this quote from Dan Mondor sums up the discussion neatly:
“I can’t put enough supers: Super-super-super exciting. This is the first true mobile broadband wireless technology. What it can do, not only on the consumer side of things, but also industrial IoT applications, with the bandwidth, and ultra-low latency… Think about autonomous vehicles, and other such applications. Throughput alone isn’t the determining factor.”
Fast speeds, incredible responsiveness, and wireless devices everywhere are going to be the hallmarks of 5G as it spreads across the world. Here’s an edited transcript of our interview.
VentureBeat: So where is Inseego in the 5G hardware development process? You’re going to be using Qualcomm X50 chips, right?
Dan Mondor: It’s real, it’s happening, and we’re going to participate in some of the initial commercial trials this year. We’d certainly expect to see it ramp up in 2019.
5G’s a freight train: It’s very big and moving very fast. We do have the technical competency at Inseego, having really done every first-generation of the new standard technologies — 2G, 3G, 4G. So we have incredible RF, antenna and modem technology capability, and we have a very close partnership with Qualcomm, who are literally across the street from us. We’re [working] engineer-to-engineer [with them] as the technology’s being rolled out.
We’re going to be introducing both a fixed modem — home gateway router product with 5G — as well as a mobile technology. I dislike the term “hotspot,” but we’ll go with that.
VentureBeat: What radio spectrum will your fixed 5G (home/office) hardware operate on? Millimeter wave? Midband?
Ashish Sharma: We’ll cover all the different bands. We’re starting out with the more commonly accepted bands, and that does cover millimeter wave. But as the spectrum gets allocated and our customers finalize their band requirements, we’re looking to have a solution that covers all the key global bands. We’re still evaluating what goes into the solution from a sub-6Ghz band, but there will be a mix of both.
VentureBeat: If you’re setting up a 5G modem in a home, are there any concerns about antenna positioning and strength? Will your hardware be only inside, or outside?
Mondor: There are two options. One is an entirely in-home solution, with a very pleasing, compact form factor, CP (customer premises) device as well as antenna, and the other is essentially just a slight modification on top of a bracket for outside-the-home mounting.
VentureBeat: How’s it going to compare to a FIOS install, visually?
Mondor: You might be imagining something a little more inelegant and large than what our design is. The CP device, you might think of as a large soup can size. And the antenna doesn’t look like a dead spider upside down. Think of a very elegant full form factor that might be two large soup cans in height on end. It’s not a beast.
We’ve been asked to do it in white, so it fits with contemporary home decor. Don’t picture some ugly hot water tank-looking thing. Think of rounded lines, not squares and sharp angles. It’s very rounded, something you could easily put on your bookshelf. It’s not some nasty thing.
Sharma: It’s a totally new design. This is where our expertise comes…