If you’ve not yet heard of Magnolia Broadband, that’s about to change. Soon. The four-year-old fabless semiconductor company creates RF solutions by combining signal processing technologies with integrated circuit solutions for the cellular industry. Which in simpler terms means: It’s found a way to offer really, really good cell phone reception and transmission.
At the helm of these exciting developments is CEO Osmo Hautanen who, before championing Magnolia, was the president of Fenix, the CEO of Formus Communications, the president of Philips Consumer Communications Group and an 18-year veteran of a Finnish company called Nokia.
Mobile Enterprise: What’s the nutshell explanation of Magnolia’s DiversityPlus?
Osmo Hautanen: More and more wireless devices in today’s world have two antennas. DiversityPlus is basically a chip that goes into a wireless device, takes the signals from both antennas and combines them in a unique way. Whereby, you transmit between 3 and 5 dB less power, and [that offers] a benefit when it comes to capacity, because you can increase the capacity of the network up to 100 percent, and you can increase the coverage up to 60 percent and your data throughput goes up and essentially doubles. There are benefits for the carriers as well as for the end users, like longer battery life, as well as less radiation.
ME: You’ve just completed successful testing of DiversityPlus with SK Telecom, in South Korea. When will it be released commercially?
OH: We have been working with SK Telecom for the last two years. If everything goes well, we’re going to have commercial products on the market in the fourth quarter of this year or first quarter of next year. In Korea.
ME: How about in the United States?
OH: My expectation is that the carriers are going to make a decision regarding diversity by about the middle of this year. So, we have indications now that some of the OEMs are also going to build prototypes for U.S. carriers.
ME: When that happens, what do you think the effect will be on the industry?
OH: Because there’s only so many frequencies in the world, the carriers and the manufacturers have to
figure out how to use those frequencies in a much more efficient way. There’s no question that in-building coverage is not very good in the U.S., compared to in-building coverage in Korea, for example. The operators have to figure out how they’re going to generate additional revenue out of data. I believe that data rates will be one of the ways the carriers are going to compete.
ME: What lessons from your experience at Nokia have been especially valuable in growing Magnolia Broadband?
OH: One thing I learned was there are a lot of questions, such as, “Can a small company survive?” If you do unique things, and you take care of your customers and you have unique products, I think you can. I think Nokia is a great example of that, and I think we can do exactly the same thing.
The other thing I took out of [the Nokia experience] was that I was lucky enough to make a lot of excellent contacts in this business, which I hope will help Magnolia Broadband. Also, what happens many times with start-up companies is there’s a lot of wonderful technology, but they don’t know how to commercialize the technology. What we have with Magnolia Broadband are excellent technical people, but also people who understand the business side. And the fact that we have been able to work with companies such as SK Telecom is going to make our lives much easier.