This Aussie Startup Wants to Fix mmWave’s Problems, and It’s Got the CSIRO Behind It

This Aussie Startup Wants to Fix mmWave’s Problems, and It’s Got the CSIRO Behind It
The Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro. The Pixel 6 Pro is the only phone in Australia that has mmWave support. Image: Google

An Australian startup wants to rollout mmWave technology quickly in a cost-effective manner.

In case you’ve forgotten, mmWave is a form of 5G that is super fast. Like, crazy fast, much faster than standard 5G. Back in February, Telstra broke one of its own speed records using mmWave 5G.

Unfortunately for us Aussies though, there’s only one phone at the time of writing for sale in the country that can access mmWave signals: The Pixel 6 Pro. iPhones released after the iPhone 12 series for sale in the United States also have mmWave capability, including the recent iPhone SE, but not within Australia.

Yet, as the technology is a lot faster than standard 5G, we’ll likely see it rolled out overtime. Enter MilliBeam, an Australian semiconductor technology startup that wants to solve mmWave’s problems.

The startup has announced $750,000 in seed funding from Main Sequence, a venture fund founded by the CSIRO. On its website, the company says that its products specifically address limited radio coverage issues, along with energy efficiency and cost problems surrounding the deployment of mmWave technology.

“5G mmWave is an exciting and necessary next step in the evolution of the communications market,” says Doctor Venkata Gutta, the founder of MilliBeam. Gutta has a history of working with semiconductors and has developed technology for companies such as NXP Semiconductors and Freescale Semiconductor.

“However, there are inevitable teething problems and hurdles to overcome before it goes widespread including its suitability over long distances, how well it can go through walls, and energy-efficiency.”

This seed funding will help MilliBeam get its start, fast-tracking the development of its “LEFT-BEAM” technology and expanding its design team.

What is LEFT-BEAM technology? Well, it’s a proprietary invention of MilliBeam’s own making. It addresses the high-power consumption and coverage constraints of mmWave 5G technology, which arise from the limitations of semiconductor technologies at mmWave frequencies.

MilliBeam claims that carriers around the world have struggled to fully deliver the coverage promise of mmWave, offering faster speeds at the cost of shorter coverage range (to compensate for the greater 28GHz frequency, while standard 5G uses sub-6GHz).

A way to address this includes hundreds of thousands of smaller cells within specific areas could expand mmWave network coverage, however it’s a steep infrastructure requirement. LEFT-BEAM technology developments could address the range constraints of mmWave signals without the need for such extensive infrastructure.

“Leveraging our LEFT-BEAM technology, we can enable faster, more efficient 5G deployments, bringing high-speed connectivity to billions of users as they connect around the world,” added Gutta.

MilliBeam says that LEFT-BEAM technology developments over the next five years could lead to a ten-fold increase in radio signal range and an energy efficiency of over 25 per cent (up from 3 per cent, which is what it’s currently considered to be).

“As technology advances and people become more hooked to their phones, video game consoles, and computers, there’s been an increasing demand for faster network services,” says Main Sequence partner Mike Nicholls.

“There is so much demand for 5G technology and equipment that the opportunity is ripe for disruptive companies and new entrants.”

With funding secured from the CSIRO, MilliBeam’s mmWave development will kick off over the coming months. The MilliBeam team is currently distributed all over Australia, with an R&D centre planned to be built in Sydney.

Let’s hope that this new startup leads to mmWave rolling out across Australia.