Advanced silicon parts are the main innovation that sets Siklu apart, helping the company grab about a third of the market share in only three years of operation.
By Avigayil Kadesh
Throughout Europe and North America, a sophisticated Israeli-made gadget is behind the scenes carrying ever-increasing loads of data across mobile and broadband networks.
Siklu is hardly a household word. But 10,000 of its units have been deployed by service providers worldwide over the past three years, making communication and web-surfing possible for thousands of users – such as students at Abertay University in Scotland, who this year are enjoying 10 times more bandwidth than they had before.
Abertay had been providing a fiber-based leased line to dormitory residents, not enough to handle growing bandwidth demands made by a proliferation of connected devices. To upgrade the transmission capability to 1 gigabit per second, Abertay’s wireless provider recommended the Siklu EtherHaul-1200F solution, which does the job at a far lower cost than a leased circuit.
“We’re glad we could help Abertay students get faster Internet access,” says Siklu Director of Product Management Shahar Peleg. “Millimeter wave wireless links are a very cost-effective fiber extension solution in dense urban areas, whether you need high capacity for multi-tenant units such as Abertay did, or you are an ISP serving multiple businesses.”
What’s a millimeter wave?
In layman’s terms, here’s what the techno-speak means:
Wireless transmission (“backhaul”) systems transport traffic or data over air via wireless electromagnetic waves. Your computer connects to Wi-Fi at a relatively low frequency of 2.4 or 2.5 gigahertz. Siklu’s systems work with millimeter waves, which provide a much higher-frequency transmission — between 60 to 80 gigahertz – for big data files.
“The higher frequency allows vendors like us to design and implement systems to transport high capacities of data, at 1 gigabit per second and higher,” says Peleg. “Anywhere you need to transport data wirelessly, you can use our systems.”
Siklu solutions are used mostly in two areas: transmitting data to web-surfing smartphone users over mobile phone networks; and providing broadband connectivity through service providers.
Peleg says the Israeli systems are built to provide a quick return on investment, at a low total cost of ownership – which includes the costs of operation, overhead and maintenance. Factors such as reliability and power consumption figure into this equation.
“When our company was founded in 2008, it was clear that we needed to provide high-performance systems at a significantly lower total cost than what comparable systems were able to offer,” he says. “To achieve that, we had to design our whole system from scratch, not using third-party components. We even designed and manufactured our own antennas.”
Advanced silicon parts are the main innovation that sets Siklu apart, helping the company grab about a third of the market share in only three years of operation. The systems are comprised of just three silicon chips, which reduces cost, energy consumption and size, while improving reliability due to the small number of components.
“The end result is the highest MTBF [average time a device will function before failing] in the industry,” Peleg says. “We brought a lot of disciplines to our product from the consumer market, where silicon integration allows you to buy a Wi-Fi router for about $100.
He cannot name his bigger clients, but Peleg says they include a range of Internet and broadband service providers and mobile operators. Rapier Systems, a leading UK wireless integrator, procured the Siklu EtherHaul system for Abertay University from a local distributor.
“Siklu’s price is simply unbeatable, reliability is high, and it has AES encryption,” said Richard Watson, managing director of Rapier Systems. “As an added bonus, it has an extremely small footprint and is very unobtrusive when mounted outdoors.”
The privately held company, based in Petah Tikva, is backed by international investment funds and private investors, led by Evergreen Venture Partners, DFJ Tamir Fishman, Argonaut Private Equity, Amiti Ventures, Tamares Capital and a strategic investment by Qualcomm Ventures.
Peleg notes with pride that the product is made entirely in Israel, and all of the R&D, sales, marketing and manufacturing personnel also work out of Petah Tikva. The company has a sales office in New Jersey and sales representatives in several other locations, for a total of about 50 employees.
The future looks bright for Siklu.
“The craving for capacity doesn’t stop, and our customers need to keep their networks upgraded to cope with higher capacities,” says Peleg, “so we’re working on higher performance systems.”
In addition, in the next couple of years mobile operators will start deploying small-cell equipment that can provide more capacity to smartphones. “Millimeter waves are expected to play a significant role in that regard because they’re well suited to this application,” says Peleg.