Three North American wireless operators will get to taste firsthand the benefits of intelligent antenna technology from two-year old Ottawa start-up TenXc Wireless next year. Rogers Wireless Inc., Microcell Telecommunications Inc. and T-Mobile USA have all agreed to undertake live testing of TenXc’s active antenna in the first quarter of 2005 and its active array products beginning in the third quarter of the same year. TenXc is also in discussions with Ericsson about a reseller agreement under which it would distribute the intelligent antennas. The company told Report on Wireless last year that its antenna technology would allow wireless carriers to increase capacity without having to spend a lot of money (RoW, Sept. 23/03). Joe Hickey, president and CEO of TenXc, provided greater detail about the company’s technology and business plans last month at Skypoint Capital Corp.’s annual general meeting. "We have a unique approach to building out the RF footprint which transitions from passive antennas to creating active components in the masthead," he said during his 20-minute presentation on May 20. "Think of it as a better way of building out your RF footprint with a significant capex (capital expenditure) savings on a per site basis for wireless service providers." The company has three primary products in the pipeline: an active antenna, an active array and an adaptive array. The active antenna has a distributed architecture inside of it, making it significantly more reliable than current passive antennas, said Hickey. For years, carriers have struggled with the need to add capacity to handle a growing subscriber base, but have also had to balance the high cost associated with the requirement to expand capacity. Operators have either had to undertake costly cell or sector splitting or implement additional base station features through software upgrades. Hickey said the company’s active array architecture addresses these issues with a lower cost solution. TenXc’s intellectual property can deliver a two times capacity gain in wireless networks and eliminate the need for costly sector splitting. "We bring a unique capability to that market such that we can deliver a two times (gain) in capacity for a wireless service provider, which the only other way they could get that, is either by deploying base station features from a Nortel (Networks Corp.)or an Ericsson on a network wide basis, or doing a cell split, which is on average between US$175,000 to US$225,000 per site," he said, adding "from our discussions with customers they think they fully maximized the advantages they can get from software features on a base station.""Our active array could do it for US$25,000 per site," he said. The requirement to purchase additional spectrum at inflated prices is another consideration that TenXc’s active array can reduce or even eliminate, explained Hickey. This can be accomplished because the active array actually integrates four active antennas into a single product. "We basically mitigate the requirement for customers to go out and buy new spectrum," he said. "Think of a (carrier which) has 30 MHz of spectrum. With that existing capacity using our adaptive array, they need one quarter of the amount of spectrum. This gives service providers significant room to grow their network, utilizing spectrum that they already have and avoiding that (huge) investment." Business plan and projectionsIt’s thought the global smart or intelligent antenna market will be an approximately US$3-billion business by 2007, with the worldwide antenna market being worth about US$40 billion. The North American market is predicted to have a value of approximately US$600 million by 2007. Hickey said the company should be able to capture about 5% of this market. He added that with 10 customers, three of which would represent 60% of the opportunity in the GSM space, TenXc would be profitable. TenXc is still trying to land about US$12 million in funding, which will allow the upstart firm to take its first two products to market. The company expects to record its first revenue in the fourth quarter of 2005 at about the same time as it hopes to secure series B financing of about US$15 million, allowing the operation to become cash flow positive. Hickey wouldn’t say how much revenue the company expects to generate in Q4 2005, but said revenue for the following year is projected to be in the US$6.5 million range and US$31 million in 2007. Based on what Rogers, Microcell and T-Mobile are telling TenXc, the company has got its timing right. "Those customer engagements are telling us that we are hitting the sweet spot in terms of what they require. It’s a growing market opportunity and it’s an existing opportunity," Hickey said. "Our-go-to-market strategy is not dependent on 3G. How ever 3G happens, we can sell our antennas there as well. It’s a cost improvement business case and all customers look at capex and (operating expenditures), and we believe we have a unique technology and market timing that will allow us to capture our fair share."