How Pivotal found a new way to deploy 5G
Posted on July 29, 2020 | Pivotal Commware
Puget Sound Business Journal — There’s a lot of talk about 5G, the next and faster iteration of cellular technology. More scarce is a clear picture of how 5G will change our business and personal lives. And there’s even less talk about the challenges of deploying it.
Kirkland-based Pivotal Commware has developed new 5G hardware that makes the networks easier and cheaper to deploy.
The technology also solves for a difficult problem facing 5G — how to get the signal to penetrate the walls of homes and other buildings.
All of this could make Pivotal the new internet architecture that supports the next wave of new technologies, including 3D holographic videoconferencing and other live virtual reality experiences, said CEO Brian Deutsch.
Pivotal has partnered with Verizon to launch “millimeter wave” or “ultra-wideband” devices that Deutsch says can project the higher-band frequencies commonly used for 5G into buildings — and do it cheaper and faster than other legacy technologies.
In a pilot project, the companies have deployed the devices — small boxes known as Echo 5G and Pivot 5G Holographic Beam Forming repeaters — in Dearborn, Michigan.
The technology has the potential to put Verizon’s 5G wireless data network in direct competition with more conventional broadband providers, who face the labor and expense of laying or stringing fiber optic cable.
What’s more, Deutsch said, Pivotal’s technology is faster and has less latency, which allows for new technologies, such as driverless cars and live virtual reality, that would be impossible on slower networks with more delays in data transmission.
The vision is for Verizon to deploy a consumer device that can be easily installed on a building’s window. Signals can then be pumped into the structure from other repeaters throughout the neighborhood.
During the pilot program, a single Pivotal repeater “lit up the entire side of a 120-unit apartment building,” Deutsch said.
Deutsch said Bill Gates was an early and significant investor in the company. “He truly to his core understands the game-changing nature of it,” Deutsch said.
Once an ultra-fast 5G wireless network using the technology is unleashed, the applications beyond broadband are endless: gaming and other digital media, simulations where one could “fly” right alongside a drone — and view its perspective live and in three dimensions — telemedicine, Internet of Things and more.
Deutsch envisions better teleconferencing applications, their need underscored by the Covid-19 outbreak, that can project three-dimensional images of people and objects into a room.
In one scenario for the technology’s use, Deutsch said a manufacturer could share a widget design in 3D with a client thousands of miles away and redesign that widget right in front of the client based on the customer’s feedback. No cross-country flight or in-person meeting necessary.
“We’re starting to realize what the power of that could be,” Deutsch said.