Gary Lerude, MWJ Technical Editor
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Gary Lerude

Gary Lerude is the Technical Editor of Microwave Journal. Previously, he spent his career as a “midwife” aiding the growth of the compound semiconductor industry, from device to application, from defense to commercial. He spent 19 years at Texas Instruments, 11 years at MACOM and six years with TriQuint. Gary holds a bachelor’s in EE, a master’s in systems engineering and an engineers degree (ABD) in EE.

Weekly Report

For the week ending June 30, 2017

July 2, 2017

Here’s the recap of industry-related news that I noted last week.

Companies and Products

BAW filter start-up Akoustis Technologies completed the acquisition of STC-MEMS, gaining an internal BAW manufacturing facility in upstate New York. Akoustis plans to maintain and grow the existing STC-MEMS MEMS business.

Peregrine Semiconductor announced a design win for their RF switches in Monarch Antenna's 4G tunable handset antenna, which covers 700 to 800 MHz. Antenna tuning dynamically improves signal levels to maintain call quality and data rates.

Pivotal Commware raised $17 million in a Series A round to commercialize their holographic beam forming (HBF) technology for terrestrial beam steering applications, such as cellular and mobile platforms. Pivotal has already been generating revenue from an air-to-ground, in-flight communications service provider.

Qorvo’s Beijing assembly and test facility received ISO/TS 16949 qualification, required for manufacturing automotive components. The Beijing site is the fifth Qorvo facility to be certified.

Qualcomm extended its offer to buy NXP’s shares to July 27. Surprisingly, this is well within the timeline for the EU's competition review, which may go into October. And this was right before the EU halted their review of the deal, triggered when the companies missed a deadline to submit information requested by the EU investigators. The EU’s clock will restart once the information is supplied.

Remcom added diffuse scattering prediction to Wireless InSite®, their radio propagation software for analyzing wireless communication systems. This update improves the ability to simulate millimeter wave systems such as 5G, fixed wireless access and WiGig.

ViaSat was awarded two MIDS JTDS contracts— a double acronym that stands for Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System — worth $88 million. ViaSat will deliver four-channel software-defined radio terminals for Link 16 communications to the Air Force and Navy. Deliveries should complete by June 2019.

X-Microwave’s LEGO®-style building block approach to developing RF/microwave systems is gaining momentum: Analog Devices (ADI) added 250 of their RF/microwave products to X-Microwave's library of components, from amplifiers to VCOs. Custom MMIC added more than 35 MMICs: LNAs, PAs, distributed amplifiers, driver amplifiers, low phase noise amplifiers, phase shifters, switches and mixers. X-Microwave's X-MWblock system reduces time-to-market by enabling simulation, rapid prototyping and a smooth transition to manufacturing moderate volume.

Markets and Technology

Cellular/5G — T-Mobile is moving aggressively to use the 600 MHz spectrum it won in the FCC auction earlier this year. The company plans to test infrastructure equipment and sites this summer and expects phones with 600 MHz coverage to be available later this year. The carrier plans to upgrade the spectrum to 5G once the standard is defined and will add capacity at 28 and 39 GHz.

Mobile World Congress played in Shanghai last week and was expected to draw more than 65,000 attendees. Mobile World Live covered the event and produced multiple videos, including three daily summaries, which you can watch here.

Broadband — AT&T announced expanded LTE broadband internet service to more than 70,000 locations in nine states. AT&T is receiving funding from the FCC’s Connect America Fund, so the service is required to deliver at least 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up. AT&T plans to cover 400,000 locations by the end of 2017 and over 1.1 million by 2020.

Google Fiber is using micro-trenching to speed laying fiber in the cities where it has committed to fiber service. Two machines dig a narrow slot in the street, lay the fiber and then fill the slot with cement. The approach avoids having to use utility poles, which seems to trigger lawsuits from the cable operators.

The FCC granted OneWeb's “petition for U.S. market access” for its 720 LEO broadband satellite constellation. However, it comes with conditions to prevent interference and anticipates additional satellite constellations: “The Order provides that OneWeb will need to accommodate in-line interference avoidance and spectrum sharing with other NGSOs in the future.” Nonetheless, it’s a nice win and gives OneWeb a first mover advantage.

Space — Via Satellite magazine profiled how satellites are providing much-needed services for the ultra-poor in Bangladesh — a much bigger impact than just accessing Facebook.

SpaceX launched 10 Iridium NEXT satellites into orbit, and their Falcon first stage landed successfully on their drone ship named Just Read the Instructions. No matter how many times I see this, it’s still inspiring:

Sped up version of today's rocket landing on the Droneship Just Read the Instructions (guess it did)

A post shared by Elon Musk (@elonmusk) on

And if that’s not impressive, how about Elon Musk's vision to colonize Mars? Read Making Humans a Multi-Planetary Species.

Autonomous Driving — The Volvo-Autoliv JV signed a deal with Nvidia to develop software for self-driving cars. The companies aim to use artificial intelligence to recognize objects around vehicles, anticipate threats and navigate safely.

Careers — To meet the demand for tech workers, The New York Times reports that some firms, including IBM and Microsoft, are filling some positions based on skills rather than a college degree. This approach may provide a path to the middle class, an alternative to past manufacturing jobs in steel mills and automotive assembly plants. It’s way too early to judge the impact and whether a bachelor's degree will become obsolete.

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