Mimosa Uncorks Cheap Broadband With Snap, Crackle and MicroPoP!

Fixed wireless -- for so long the red-headed stepchild of the mobile scene in the US -- now appears to be enjoying a broadband renaissance, and startup Mimosa wants to be at the heart of it with its new, low-cost "MicroPoP" offerings.

On Thursday morning, Mimosa Networks Inc. revealed its Micro Point-of-Presence (MicroPoP) network architecture for wireless ISPs (WISPs) and others to use to provide low-cost broadband over-the-air in "densely populated urban and suburban areas," the company said.

Jamie Fink, chief product officer at the Campbell, Calif.-based company, says that the newly introduced A5 Access Point and C5 Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) -- operating over the public 5GHz band -- are the "next evolution" of the company's "Massive MIMO" technology, which has largely been used for wireless backhaul so far. (See Mimosa's Backhaul Bubbles With Massive MIMO and Mimosa's Speedy, Sticky City WiFi Concentrator.)

Fink says that "about 500 ISPs so far" are using or testing the new wireless broadband equipment in the US. "We're going to Europe in the next couple of weeks," Fink says.

Californian ISP Sail Internet, for instance, is using the equipment to offer services in the Warm Springs neighborhood of Fremont, Calif. In fact, the ISP is offering residents a free, three-month trial of its "breakthrough fixed-wireless service."

Fink says that ISPs can do this because the initial spend to install the customer equipment is about $150 to $300. ISPs can install multiple units in a single truck roll and "they don't have to do any digging." Thus, the ISPs can offer free months and still recoup their initial spend within months.

Fink says that the C5 unit is about one-third the size of a satellite dish. It can be deployed on lamp posts, street furniture, or rooftops. "All of our ISPs so far are doing rooftop deployments," Fink says.

The C5 connects over 5GHz to A5 and delivers between 250 Mbit/s and 300 Mbit/s to users in the area. Fink says that the range between the CPE and the access point is generally 500 meters.

"You're going to have far more than 20 homes in the 500-meter radius in the dense areas we're talking about," Fink says.

The fixed-wireless push is going to be Mimosa's focus going forward. "This was always the intent, the backhaul technology was a proof of concept for us," Fink says.

"The multi-point market is where all the growth is," he adds.

Mimosa has garnered around $50 million in several venture funding rounds so far. It is pulling together a round D now.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading