Movandi has introduced a system, called BeamXR, that can improve the performance of millimeter-wave (mmWave) 5G base stations, small cells, customer premise equipment (CPE), and other 5G network equipment, by boosting signals and beamforming.

Coverage with mmWave spectrum was always going to be difficult; 5G mmWave signals don’t propagate as far as the signals used in today’s 4G wireless networks, and they are less able to penetrate walls.

Movandi devised BeamXR to address those problems by boosting mmWave signals, and extending the range and coverage capabilities of mmWave-based wireless network equipment.

The company asserts that carriers can reduce their deployment costs by adding BeamXR modules to their base stations. The argument is that if the coverage area of each base station is expanded – around corners, through walls – carriers will need to deploy fewer of them, thereby saving money.

Mount a 5G mmWave antenna in front of a building, and the signal might not get around the sides of the building. Movandi claims that with BeamXR, it can boost and direct a signal to where there otherwise would be no coverage, even around corners. The ability to get a signal through walls, meanwhile, might obviate the requirement for small cells in many environments, the company believes.

BeamXR is based on Movandi’s BeamX mmWave beamforming technology. We spoke with Maryam Rofougaran, CEO and co-founder of Movandi, who declined to provide too many details about the technology, but said that the BeamXR builds on the company’s BeamX front-end, which integrates RF, antenna, beamforming, and control algorithms into a modular 5G mmWave solution.

BeamX, she said, “already provides good reception, transmit power, sensitivity – that’s one thing. But we are also adding some algorithms and some digital functions.” The latter include some functions of a 5G modem. BeamXR modules do not replace a 5G modem, but works in tandem with the 5G modem already in the system it is being added to.

“This can synch to the base station to improve signal strength and bring a signal to a house, or shift it so that it will reach around a building,” she said.

5G also promises to support low-latency applications. BeamXR does add some latency, but the amount is negligible, Rofougaran assured.

The traditional alternative that Movandi expects to obviate with BeamXR, the company said, is adding millimeter wave antennas that are expensive, bulky, and inefficient.

“BeamXR is more compact, more power-efficient over a wider power range, more spectrally efficient, and cheaper to produce. And because BeamXR can more effectively distribute the 5G signal, you can get much more coverage while meeting very low latency in hard to reach places,” the company said.

Movandi is sampling BeamXR to its early access partners including major global operators, infrastructure vendors, and OEMs.

EDN editor-in-chief Brian Santo has been writing about science and technology for over 30 years, covering cable networks, broadband, wireless, the Internet of things, T&M, semiconductors, consumer electronics, and more.