1. Prose Technologies is a relatively new name in the industry. What's the story behind the company and the name?
Prose Technologies is the result of the spin out of the RF business unit from the Rosenberger Group. Being a world leader in cabling and connectivity, Rosenberger felt its RF business would be better served as a standalone entity to unlock its value. As for the name, it is based on a Latin translation for “straightforward” which we fulfill everyday.
Editor's note: To clarify, the products Rosenberger spun out to Prose were its antenna and coverage solution products, not its RF connector and cable assembly portfolio. Prose is focusing on base station antennas, microwave antennas, indoor and outdoor coverage solutions, open RAN subsystems and its own site solutions portfolio.
2. Tell us about the Prose product portfolio, market focus and typical customers.
Prose offers a complete suite of products for the wireless market, such as microwave antennas, base station antennas, in-building solutions, open RAN systems and a full site solutions package. Our global reach includes 95 wireless carriers in 65 countries. Due to our geopolitical diversity in manufacturing and R&D, most of wireless and microwave OEMs are partnering with us to expand their portfolios. Namely, our New Jersey manufacturing facility has gained a great deal of attention from customers to acquire USA built products.
3. What trends are you seeing in these markets and which areas offer the best opportunities for near-term growth?
We see two major trends in North America: the push for 5G enabled networks and expanding broadband coverage in rural or underserved areas. Both of these are positives for the microwave market. Every telecom carrier is working towards a 5G network or at least integrating it into their offering. It is not uncommon to hear the stories of rural markets still having slow DSL/cable or in some cases, dial-up. This requires bandwidth improvements operators’ networks were not originally built for. So you either need to place fiber to increase your network speeds and capacity, which is of course costly and takes time—crews, permits, etc.—or use proven wireless point-to-point technologies. We are seeing microwave as the go-to alternative for fiber optic expansion. Even in markets that are ultimately destined for fiber rollouts, the needs of today are driving operators to use microwave.
4. What's the company's manufacturing strategy—internal versus using external suppliers—and the geographic footprint of your manufacturing and supply chain?
Prose has three manufacturing centers with about 3,500 employees, most are in our manufacturing facilities. The three manufacturing centers are in Pune, India; Kunshan, China; and New Jersey, U.S. Having three locations provides Prose with a diverse supply chain while meeting the needs of our customers.
5. What differentiates your products in a fairly consolidated communications infrastructure market?
Prose’s differentiation is its total solutions offering, fast response to customer needs and diverse supply chain model. As stated earlier, Prose’s product portfolio allows us to offer a total solution to customers that reaches from the cell tower to the backhaul to the core network. We have over 300 engineers focused on providing world class products in timeframes that are hard for our competition to match. We can draw on our U.S., India and China manufacturing locations to supplement our supply chain to help mitigate bottlenecks such as transportation and parts shortages.
6. Open RAN is seen as a way to open cellular infrastructure to new players, more innovation and lower cost. What's your view of O-RAN and where Prose can play?
As with most of the telecom industry, Prose sees great promise with O-RAN, but the timing of significant deployments is still undetermined. The first adopters of the technology are in markets that have limited deployed infrastructure but have enormous demand, such as India. With our RF expertise, Prose provides an antenna and radio (RU) that many O-RAN DU/CU vendors are wanting to partner with that gives the customer a viable and economic option to a traditional RAN network.
7. The Prose website highlights the importance of company culture and common values. Describe your culture and values and how they strengthen the company.
Having two strong and honorable family owners has left its mark on Prose. The Rosenberger and Liu families have placed the wellbeing of its employees and the positive effect of the corporation on the world as priorities. This market is not only highly competitive in technology but also in personnel, and we want our employees to feel welcomed and appreciated. Likewise, we believe how we act with our customers, vendors, partners and neighbors reflects how we want to be treated and our responsibility as corporate citizens.
8. Prose is privately owned, so you don't have the quarterly pressures of a publicly-traded company. But you do have shareholders. How does financial performance influence the culture?
Well, every company needs to make money, so the P&L is important no matter who you are. But our corporate structure allows us to look at our goals in longer terms, which provides the opportunity to engage in projects that might mature in quarters instead of months. We can be a bit more creative with helping customers with month- or quarter-end deal making to meet their budgetary needs.
9. Earlier this summer you were recruited to be president of the North American segment of Prose. What is your role?
I joined Prose as the president of North America on January 1. Prose’s global CEO, Aili Lui, and I have talked for a while about her vision of expanding the company’s presence in here. My role is to make Prose the premier RF vendor in North America.
10. Tell us about your background and what attracted you to Prose.
Most recently I ran Kathrein’s Americas business, which included cell tower antennas, antenna line devices, in-building solitons and the broadcast portfolio. Kathrien was acquired by Ericsson in 2019, where I ran their entire North American antenna portfolio. Prior to these, I founded Sorrento Networks, a fiber multiplexer company. I have been an executive in the telecommunications space for 24 years, and I look forward to what the future will bring.