Feature Article

May 30, 2012

Dragonwave Expands Range and Takes the Poll Position

Dragonwave’s Alan Solheim, VP of Corporate Development recently gave me some time to discuss some of the company’s latest developments. Dragonwave has just made two announcements about its acquisition of Nokia Siemens Networks’ Harmony product line and its own expansion of capacity to 2048 QAM.

AS: We actually made a bunch of announcements recently. The first was that we amended our agreement to purchase the Nokia Siemens Networks microwave business unit. We're expecting that to close on June 1. As a result of that, we will be rebranding, the company’s FlexiPacket radio and integrating it into our Harmony product line. This includes a trunking radio, an all outdoor radio and a split mount hybrid radio. The combined product line will be sold by us directly under the Harmony brand and Nokia Siemens Networks existing channel under the FlexiPacket brand.   We are taking over the product and will do the research development, product development and the manufacturing of it.

CF: Does that change the pseudowire solutions as a result of the mix?

AS: It means there is a bit of product rationalization to do. Our Fusion product line supported pseudowire; the Nokia Siemens Networks products do pseudowire in its first mile and Hub 800 indoor units. Together, we plan to take the best of the both worlds and since they are both FPGA products this is relatively straightfoward to do. We are going to blend the solutions to take the feature richness of Nokia Siemens Networks and pair it with our clock recovery performance. This same blending will take place on the radio side of the equation as well. Since these are FPGA based solutions, from the same FPGA supplier, we can support backward compatibility for the existing customers.  We will end up with a layer of compatibility of framing and RF requirements as well as a layer of secret sauce solutions that we can offer to both product lines. 

Going forward we will have a single hardware platform that can be backward compatible with either the Horizon/Fusion line or the FlexiPacket products. The result is better economies of scale for both product and R&D.

CF: What is the impact on the sales channel?

AS: Well, we get the benefit of Nokia Siemens Networks selling a more complete product line and strengthening its relationships with existing tier 1 customers. Often Dragonwave has only the backhaul part of a complete solution so we are benefiting from Nokia Siemens Networks’ ability to deliver a complete package.

CF: What about the impact on small cell solutions?

AS: We have a small cell solution in our Avenue product line. The importance here is more about the base stations which Nokia Siemens Networks provides since we are not a base station provider, and one impact of small cells provides tighter integration between base stations and backhaul so we expect to see opportunities there.

CF: Which brings us to the announcement of 2048 QAM on the radios. Tell me about that.

AS: We are first to market with 2048 QAM, which increases our capacity by about 37 percent as compared to 256. Therefore, we continue to march down the road of higher capacity which is a battle between fiber and radio and the question of whether we have the capacity to compete with fiber. I think we are proving that we do.

While some companies prefer fiber, when it comes to deployment, the pragmatic field operations team sees the benefits of high capacity microwaves. Certainly we have seen in North America cases where there's been more fiber deployed than otherwise made economic sense. Even in the cities that might be fiber rich, you don't have fiber to the pole, the street lamp or the light standard, so even in North America we see a growing demand for microwave with small cells. And the cost of trying to trench any wired solution whether copper or fiber to those tough-to-get-to places for small cells means a much higher percentage of a wireless solutions will be deployed.

CF: Technologically are you competing for the wholesale market?

AS: Our customers are using our products in a variety of ways that allow them to shape the traffic for themselves or for wholesale relationships. We have long been advocates of having ring and mesh strategies, and the opportunities for more dynamic solutions is growing.

CF: Does that include self-organizing network strategies?

AS: The demand on the RAN side right now is leading the activities in solutions such as self-organizing networks. The backhaul connectivity sees the traffic needs, but is not directly in the path of these problems since backhaul has more direct point-to-point solutions.

CF: Together, these announcements have added a lot of value to Dragonwave.

AS: Yes, we are leading in capacity and  have a strong customer base in the market. 

CF: Alan, thank you for your time and the update.

Edited by Stefanie Mosca

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