Welcome back to the Solution Series brought to you by DoubleRadius and hosted by Jeff Holdenrid. Today we are joined by Siklu's Alex Doorduyn.
Jeff: Starting off with the questions; how did you get into this industry and where were you before Siklu?
Alex: Good question. My background is not actually in the wireless space. My background is more physical security, video surveillance/access control. I joined Siklu about 7 years ago and my 1st role was basic business development in the security small cities space using our technology to right connectivity for cameras mainly.
Jeff: That actually plays in really well with what you are doing today then at Siklu who actually plays a big role in security, especially in video surveillance and those kinds of applications. Correct?
Alex: Yea. We serve different markets and physical security is one of them. The service provider market is also a very big market, enterprise, backhaul for WiFi access points in small cities. Those are the kind of markets that we are in.
Jeff: Jumping right into some of the products, Siklu filmed a Solution Series not too far back with us and Meta, so we know Siklu does the Terragraph products. But let’s jump into mmWAVE or E-band, those offer point-to-point correct?
Jeff: Where are you seeing those products mostly deployed today?
Alex: At Siklu we are quite unique in terms of wireless manufacturing, we are only in the mmWAVE space. We don’t do microwave, we do not do WiFi, and things like that. We are purely in the mmWAVE space with 60/80 GHz, 60 is license free. Most countries, including the US, use 80 GHz for licensing, also called E-band. We provide connectivity. We really do not care what it is for, there are different vertical markets, service provider markets, and also fiber service providers. Plus Hybrid markets that do a little bit of both, which seems to be more typical these days.
I think there really has been a constant demand for increase of bandwidth from all these different applications; video surveillance, higher resolution cameras, 4K, but of course internet is the biggest one. With COVID a lot more people are working from home, learning from home, there has been a huge increase in need for bandwidth. This technology, mmWAVE is probably one of the only wireless signals (if not the only) that can provide that amount of bandwidth. Equal, I would say, to what you could get out of fiber.
Jeff: So you have an 80 GHz point-2-point product, E-band that you guys call the EtherHaul, and your 60 GHz is the MaultiHaul series correct?
Alex: Yes. But we do different types of 60 GHz, we have actually been doing 60 GHz longer than most people .. Siklu has been doing it longer than I have been with the company, and that is over 7 years! Point-to-point initially up to about a half mile (about 1 GHz). Next we introduced the MultiHaul, which is point-to-point, 80 chip set. Then we introduced Terragraph with Meta. This allows you mesh capability with a much higher bandwidth than we were able to do previously. I think we are in our 5th generation 60 GHz product.
Jeff: In the 80 GHz what is the top speed available today?
Alex: Currently it is our 8010FX radio, which is a 10 GHz full duplex (10 GHz up/10 GHz down). I would say in the future those speeds are definitely going to be increasing, I would expect high speeds the next year or two. Not only from Siklu, I expect other manufactures as well as the demand keeps going up and up. It is kind of interesting when I first joined Siklu the maximum speeds were 1 GHz full duplex and that was the best selling radio! Now we have 2 GHz, 5 GHz, and now we are onto 10 GHz. We still do the lower speed radios, sometimes lower GHz is enough for things like video surveillance, but the service providers want as much as they can get. 10 GHz is by far our best selling radio today.
Jeff: A little education for everyone, the 80 GHz is a big channel bandwidth. It is a lot of spectrum, which is why we are able to get those high speeds.
So, in your 80 GHz product, besides the service providers, are you connecting a lot of government building to building, multi-tenant or multi-dwelling, school systems, hybrid-fiber redundancy, are those primarily the main things you are seeing today?
Alex: Yes, yes, and yes. All the above! We are doing a lot with the service providers, but enterprise as well. We have, for example, done prisons with 10 GHz rings around the perimeter for data transfer. We do a lot of work in ports where they use a lot of data. They are actually using these (in that case) as a redundancy to fiber. They have fiber as their primary link, but they get a lot of fiber cuts so they want to fair over to wireless where they want as much bandwidth as they can get.
Jeff: One of the things I have seen a lot lately, especially with the fiber guys, is we know it takes time to run fiber. We know it is not something that can be done right away. Wireless is something where the products are on the shelf, they are shipping today, you can put them up fast, start earning revenue, and still run your fiber over time if you need to. But, a lot of companies we see today are deploying wireless, getting their revenue coming in, and still running through with their fiber. So, it is not a replacement, it is more like a complimentary product.
Alex: Right. Everything about wireless is that it is quick to deploy today. We’re one of the lucky manufacturers, we still have stock available. You have stock available. You can literally get a link tomorrow and install it the next day, it will be up and running by day 3. With fiber it can take weeks if you are lucky, weeks, and maybe even years with permitting, getting all the equipment, and labor these days as well. Again, the nice thing about wireless is that it is quick to deploy, and the cost is low compared to fiber. But, you can transfer it, you can redeploy it. A lot of our customers do that, you can put it in now then once they do get fiber they take their equipment and deploy it in a different location.
Jeff: That is a great example. 80 GHz being a higher frequency, knowing the distances are a little shorter than our traditional part 101s, unlicensed 5GHz, etc, are there complimentary things you can do to assist your customers on succeeding 80 GHz to go further?
Alex: Yea, that is one of the things about mmWAVE people often think is not good for long distances, rain, some people think it doesn't work in fog, smog, snow, or any inclement weather. You have to look at the facts. We are affected by heavy rain, limiting the distance, but we are not affected by fog, smog, dust, or ice. At that point it is simply the case of making a plan, understanding the climate you are deploying into. North Carolina you get a fair bit of rain here, California not so much. We sell these radios globally from California, to UK, to Seattle .. you just have to plan it correctly with the right size of antenna. We have different sizes of antennas as different manufacturers do for the distance, so it is all down to planning and alignment. If you do not have it aligned correctly you are not going to get the best performance out of it.
Other things you can look at are what levels of throughput you want/do you need, plus also the level of ability. Of course, when it rains you will lose a bit of connectivity. You can modulate down to a lower level to maybe just a few miles, you might have more connectivity with lower MGz and the range should shoot right back up. What you can do with the longer links is use a multi-band technology. You have your 80 GHz and your primary link and use your 10 GHz bandwidth 99.9% of the time, but when it is “pissing down rain” as we say in the UK it would fall a little bit onto a different frequency. 5GHz is quite a typical one. If 5 GHz doesn't work because of interference, maybe use an 11 GHz, or 18GHz, etc. It will give you a lower bandwidth/lower speeds, but it will also maintain that link. For example; at Siklu we do multi-band antennas, a 1’ or 2’ antenna with a 5 GHz and an 18 GHz. That way you have only 1 antenna for 2 different types of radios. That is a really good way to do it.
We also have a software we call ExtendMM. When the radio drops down to a certain modulation level (which you can set) it automatically fails over to that secondary link.
Jeff: ExtendMM does the lag for us?
Alex: Yes. And as soon as the rain lifts it comes right back up again.
Jeff: What we see a lot of if you take 18 GHz for instance as you just mentioned, you will have a solid link at 2 miles. You have your five 9s for reliability or your four 9s for reliability, you know that link is going to stay up and running no matter what. You throw in your 80 GHz with it and maybe it’s a three 9 link, but 99% of the time you are going to get that 10 GHz out of that system. When the weather comes in it's going to slow down, you still have 10 GHz .. it might not be what you need, but at least you are up and running. For that short period of time while the weather is there you slow down, but then you are right back up to 10 GHz again. This is a great way to deploy high-capacity and also have the comfort of the part 101 band at the same time. It is really cool how Siklu marries the two together.
Let’s shift over to the 60 GHz. Siklu has a straight 60 GHz and one that comes with the mesh technology Terragraph. I am seeing a ton of that, especially in the security we brought up earlier because you guys actually make radios that have PoE outport, that gives you the ability to set up your base station or mainpoint and have it talk to X amount of clients, high throughput, and then also feed that PoE to a WiFi device, a camera, or anything else that is needed for that. Is that what you guys are seeing a lot of right now?
Alex: Yes. We are pretty unique in that. There are not many manufacturers that do something like that, they only have 1 port. Or maybe they have a second port, but they don't have a PoE output or all the additional power supply. The benefits to the customer is they do not need an external switch. It makes it a lot simpler from a deployment point of view. In the security space we can attach the cameras directly to the radio. WiFi access points can do the same thing.
I came across another one last week. I was at a sight looking up at lampposts and buildings when I saw something I have never seen before. They had a Siklu radio that was powering an access point and the access point was actually powering the camera. I had not seen that before!
Jeff: That is pretty cool! That would keep your enclosure small with a win, win, win.
Speaking of light poles, I heard you guys are working with someone to provide an integrated light pole that has your system in it, is that correct?
Alex: Right. So we have a strategic partnership with a company called Signify, they used to be called Phillips Lightening, and they have taken our Terragraph radio and integrated it into a few different types of luminaries. The benefit of that is you do not see it, it is not a box on the outside of the pole. It is nice and it makes installation a lot quicker. The existing light pole stays the same, you remove the halogen or LED light and simply swap it with the luminaire. It may take a total of 20 minutes and the power is already done. Also, because it is higher and on a lamp post you have better line of sight and because it is on the street you do not have issues with trees. The other benefit, being on a lamp post, you get around issues of planning with the city. If you put a box on a pole you have to do the low bearing, wind resistance, speak with structuring engineers, that sort of thing.
Jeff: That is true. A lot of times people want the bandwidth but they want it aesthetically pleasing. This is a great solution for that. If you are just replacing a luminaire you have aesthetically pleasing high-speed terragraph multi-point mesh technology. Win, win, win, right?
Alex: Exactly. Rather than having to use hub homes or roofs you can now just work through the street lights. If you are working with the city and they own the poles it is a lot easier.
On that topic of hiding the radios we get a lot of questions on if you can paint the radios. Yes you can paint the radios, we encourage customers to do that to blend into their buildings if they wish. We have actually deployed radios on the Dover Castle in the UK before. They have a vinyl front on the radios that looked like stone work to keep it totally hidden. There are some really cool ideas people can do to hide the radios.
Jeff: One more question. You have been doing this for 7 years with Siklu. What sticks out in your mind as being the best deployment, or what has been the most successful win for you in helping the community?
Alex: That is a good question. I think the one I really like the most is a project we are doing with a non-profit called Digital C in Cleveland, OH. You may not know this but Cleveland is one of the worst cities in the country for broadband connectivity, they are the largest percent of population not connected to the internet .. at all, let alone broadband speeds. Of course with the global pandemic it became even more important to connect people. There are other companies like Digital C we work with in NY, they are doing an awesome job and are a non-profit as well, they actually use Siklu mmWAVE technology to provide internet to lower income communities. It is subsidized so they get a lot of grants, it’s basically paying for the deployment allowing them to charge as low as $18/month for reasonable speeds. It is primarily used for kids to do their homework. They makes you feel good.
We are also doing projects with Arizona State University (ASU) with a similar project for schools down there and if you look at where people live, to be honest, it is really bad. So we help set it up so the neighbors can come in and they can do their homework. We feel like we are helping the next generation. If the kids can be connected they can do better in school, and maybe they can get out of the poverty trap so to speak.
From that point of view we have done some really cool projects like the national mall in DC and on the Washington Monument itself. Of course, you can't really see them, they are hidden in these peabody enclosures, but they are there. We did a project for the Statue of Liberty which is neat. But the Digital Equity one speaks the most to me, I have kids as well and seeing how we can make a difference in people's lives means something.
Jeff: That is always a positive thing when you are making those changes. I know over the last few years things have been tough, people have been home, and struggles with schools and homework for people so to be able to help out with that is huge. Good-job and congratulations.
I appreciate you taking time and talking to us today to give us some insight on projects Siklu is working on and things you have done. We also look forward to seeing where you guys go over the next couple years, we have had a great partnership and enjoy seeing your products fly off the shelves.
If any of these solutions or things you have heard today stick out in your head as a “why am I not doing this” call your sales rep, reach out to Siklu, reach out to DoubleRadius. We have the products on the shelves. I am one of the engineers that knows how to use the Windy Tool so we can help design these systems and make sure you do it right the first time. Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoy the Solution Series!