AZ Technology & Innovation: Athena Wireless

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Athena Wireless is a manufacturer of high capacity wireless connectivity systems that give fiber-like speeds without the fiber. The company’s radio systems are about the size and shape of a stereo speaker. Athena Wireless is the first company to be born at the AZ TechCelerator incubator in Surprise, and is currently located in the city. It was founded by Eduardo Tinoco and Terry McManus. Tinoco will talk about his company’s innovative wireless connection system.

Ted Simons: Tonight's focus on Arizona technology and innovation looks at Athena Wireless, a manufacturer of high capacity wireless connectivity systems. Athena Wireless is the first company to come out of the AZtech-celerator incubator in Surprise. Joining me now is Athena Wireless co-founder Eduardo Tinoco. High capacity, wireless connectivity systems… what are we talking about here?

Eduardo Tinoco: So we're talking for a way to transport fiber-like connectivity using a very high frequency. In this case millimeter wave. 60 gigahertz, and 80 gigahertz.

Ted Simons: It's basically high frequency radio devices connecting signals?

Eduardo Tinoco: The best way to describe, when you need to connect two points, A and B, you have one of many ways to do it. One of the most expensive ways that we're using today is using fiber. So you get a machine that makes a hole and you put fiber into it. We have a way to do that using a very high frequency device at 60 and 80 gigahertz and we provide the same connectivity as if you have done it with fiber but you do it over the air.

Ted Simons: No trenching. No digging.

Eduardo Tinoco: No cost, no time delay. Fiber connectivity in Downtown Phoenix it will take you two, three months to get permits, two, three months to do it. For us it takes couple hours and you have fiber like speeds.

Ted Simons: How do you get the speeds without the fine center.

Eduardo Tinoco: By having a very high frequency element with a lot of band width you can modulate that device to emulate the capacity of the fiber.

Ted Simons: How much is needed and are there finite spaces available for this kinds of connectivity?

Eduardo Tinoco: There are. So today we commercialize a product that can do 1,000 megahertz per second. In the lab we have been able to go up to 10,000 per second. To give you an example we can probably route 70,000 calls through it. That's a sample of the capacity.

Eduardo Tinoco: Are your customers so far for this?

Eduardo Tinoco: 80% of our devices sell in Europe, primarily in Germany. We also do a lot of sales in the U.K. and some of it in the U.S. Customers are carriers, AT&T, Verizon wireless.

Ted Simons: I guess maybe municipalities that don't want to dig trenches.

Eduardo Tinoco: Hospitals. Places like that.

Ted Simons: What got you started?

Eduardo Tinoco: Well, I have been doing a lot of research to this matter. I was just looking at me website before the show to make sure I was repeating the same thing. It says 12 years of experience. I thought, boy, that went by fast. We have been doing this over 16 years now.

Ted Simons: As far as your business I know this tech-celerator deal in Surprise kind of got you guys started. Talk about that relationship. You're still in Surprise?

Eduardo Tinoco: Yes. We relocated from San Jose, California. A group of guys and myself, we're 18 employees. When we initiated this dream four years ago, we went and raised some capital and we said now let's finds an incubator that understands the need for growth. That's how we found the city of Surprise. Truth be told I didn't know about a city named surprise until I flew into Phoenix, met the mayor and we told him the dream. They told us about this incubator being a municipality based incubator, which made it very attractive for us.

Ted Simons: Is it a nonprofit incubator?

Eduardo Tinoco: I don't know if it's nonprofit, but their goal is for us to keep hiring people instead of increasing rent.

Ted Simons: To keep you in Surprise?

Eduardo Tinoco: Yes. They would like to make the mecca of our technology surprise.

Ted Simons: How many do you employ?

Eduardo Tinoco: 18.

Ted Simons: You mentioned that. How many more expected?

Eduardo Tinoco: We would like to get to about 65.

Ted Simons: Is this the kind of thing where you would like to stay based in the west valley? Wind up going back to San Jose? What's the future?

Eduardo Tinoco: We would like to make this the mecca. Technology such as these will most likely need to have multiple locations. Maybe we'll need an office in Europe, one in Asia. We see the need for these type of technology in those locations.

Ted Simons: The product you have now I think was the 60 and 80 . I notice you had a little pixie as well for cellphones. What's that all about?

Eduardo Tinoco: When we're designing technology we're looking into multiple elements. Typically the question is what next. What we did is we took a traditional microwave and made it digital. We made it small. We looked into traditional base stations, cellular towers where we make phone calls. If you look at one of those stations typically they are very expensive, very heavy. So our goal, our objective with pixie is to digitize, reduce the size, reduce the cost and emulate that with our product.

Ted Simons: It's basically a small tower.

Eduardo Tinoco: Yes. Exactly, it's a small tower.

Ted Simons: That's coming out when?

Eduardo Tinoco: Well, we are going to do some demos in the next few weeks. We realistically think the product is about six months out to begin.

Ted Simons: You're doing great work. Congratulations on your success and continued success.

Eduardo Tinoco: Thank you.

Eduardo Tinoco:Founder, Athena Wireless;

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