As the 5G network and device ecosystem ramps up, there is much talk of the new generation of wireless technologies as a disruptive force across industries. Some players are hoping that 5G will enable them to disrupt the status quo within the telecom space as well.
Akoustis, which produces RF bulk acoustic wave filters for mobile devices and infrastructure, has been preparing for the 5G market for five years, since its founding in 2014. The small company, headquartered in North Carolina, recently announced its first purchase order for 5G mobile RF BAW filers for the 5G mobile device market, from a company it left unnamed but described as a “multi-billion dollar tier-1 wireless telecommunications company.” For that company, Akoustis will be developing a BAW filter for mobile handsets to “address the challenges associated with emerging 5G frequency bands.” Akoustis focuses on developing filters for spectrum up to 7 GHz.
Company CEO Jeff Shealy estimated that there are between 40-50 filters in an LTE smartphone and the company expects 5G devices to have on the order of 75 to 100 filters – and most of those, he said, will be BAW filters in order to support global 5G spectrum in the 3.5 GHz range and higher.
Putting the company in a position to compete in 5G has meant doing substantial work in advanced development around prospective 5G spectrum bands and their requirements to achieve the desired performance, as well as building out capacity in Akoustis’ factory in upstate New York. The company has design teams that put together prototypes and test them in-house so that Akoustis can speed time-to-market, while high-volume manufacturing and some other lower-cost functions are performed overseas. The company sees 5G as a market disruption that presents it with an opportunity, as a new entrant, to gain ground — because as Shealy put it, not all companies have the technical expertise that it takes to put together new 5G solutions.
“We want to play where there’s a new market,” Shealy said. “We think that’s the land grab you can achieve by beating the competition to market with new technology and certain products, instead of trying to hit them head-on where they’re already producing products.”
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