A year later, Moto spinoff relishes its independence

NOTE: This first appeared in the Oct. 15 edition of the Daily Herald Business Ledger

Phil Bolt will be the first to tell you there’s life after Motorola.

As president and CEO of Cambium Networks, Bolt is leading the charge to develop Cambium’s independence from its former parent into the world of wireless broadband and microwave technology.
And, as Bolt sees it, the company’s potential is as big as the world.

“We have an absolutely massive future,” he said recently before a product rollout event at the company’s new headquarters in Rolling Meadows.

Cambium supplies a wide selection of hardware and software for the wireless industry, from point-to-point and point-to-multipoint wireless services to fixed and mobile connectivity solutions. The company provides products and services to wireless Internet service providers, businesses, government and the military.

Cambium operated as a division of Motorola from 2002 until it was acquired by private equity firm Vector Capital in 2011. It became independent in October 2011 and has since grown into a company with roughly $150 million in revenues.

Bolt sees that growing into the billions as Cambium takes advantage of the increasing demand for high-speed Internet services, both in areas already served by Internet providers, but more so in areas that aren’t being touched by current providers. He notes that Cambium products can provide wireless Internet access to rural areas at a fraction of the cost of cable or wired systems.

“We need to cover the unserved market, especially the rural market,” Bolt said. “If they were going to run out cable to those houses, they would have done it by now. They’re not going to do that. The only economical way of doing it is with wireless.”

As a result, a majority of Cambium’s 2,250 channel partners are wireless Internet service providers, many of them operate in rural or remote areas in the U.S. and abroad, providing service to areas that would not be financially feasible for cable companies. “These guys are so entrepreneurial,” Bolt said of his clients. “Some are companies with six guys, some are big companies with over 100 employees, but they all can go out and put in broadband access on short notice — within 24 hours in many cases.”

While Cambium also provides wireless networking systems that help businesses, government and the military connect with each other on dedicated frequencies, Bolt says the biggest portion of the company — and it’s future — lies in the wireless service providers and the ability to grow the outdoor fixed network segment. What differentiates outdoor fixed wireless Internet from mobile 3G or 4G networks, he said, is the ease and speed of setting up a localized network with speeds comparable or faster than mobile. He added outdoor fixed networks have shown to be more consistently reliable as well.

“Outdoor fixed is an amazing market with huge potential,” Bolt said. “A lot of people don’t even realize what you can do.”

The increasing demand for more broadband access has two fronts, he points out. On one hand, people who have broadband access want more so they can stream large amounts of data such as videos, while there are still many areas in the world that are not yet connected to broadband networks.

“Your existing customer base wants more Netflix, so that’s driving up demand. At the same time, there’s more and more people who want to come onto these networks that they just cannot get now,” Bolt said.

“We consume 1,300 times more data in a fixed establishment — at home or in the office — than you ever do on your smartphone walking down the street,” Bolt added. “That’s where we specialize. We’re beyond 4G in our capabilities.”

And Cambium’s products are best suited because of its quick set up capabilities, ideal for setting up affordable Internet networks in rural or remote locations, as well as in areas where demand for broadband Internet exceeds current needs, Bolt said.

“That’s one of the beauties with our radios, They are so fast to deploy and they’re easy to deploy,” he added.

Bolt stresses that Cambium’s corporate strategy goes beyond selling products and services. The company’s mission is to help its clients develop and grow their business potential, which he said will reflect in his company’s bottom line.

“We look at ways to grow their business,” he added, noting Cambium’s strategy helps encourage and support the development and growth of local businesses.

That mission was reiterated at the recent event rolling out its new PMP 450 point-to-multipoint access solution. Bolt spoke to the 130 customers and partners in attendance — and another 375 watching the event online — about how Cambium’s new independence will mean a greater focus on helping them grow their businesses and markets.

“It’s our new identity now. We are now truly independent,” Bolt said. “Our aim is the growth of you guys. That, in turn, means growth for us.”


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