Exalt releases ExploreAir microwave backhaul platform

ExploreAir, the new microwave backhaul platform from Exalt, is now available for around US$10,000. Exalt claims that the new equipment delivers 500 megabits per-second full-duplex Ethernet plus native TDM. It supports world bands from 2 GHz to 40 GHz. Exalt’s existing product line, ExtendAir (which was released in March 2010), sells for between US$7,000 and US$8,000.

ExploreAir product line from Exalt

ExploreAir is aimed at mobile operators, industrial companies (such as utilities), wireless ISPs, enterprises, government agencies (security) and others that need 4G backhaul. It is especially attractive to those who would like to deploy fiber and need fiber-like capacity, but for many reasons such as cost and long distances, cannot realistically lay down fiber networks.

Fiber versus microwave deployment

I had a chance to speak to CEO Amir Zoufonoun last week about Exalt’s business in particular where the company is currently selling most of its equipment and where the opportunities lie in the future. Below is a short Q&A.

Q: Where are most of your sales taking place today?

A: North America: greater than 80%, with the remainder taking place in Asia, EMEA, Central and Latin America. But this is changing rapidly.

Q. Where is the greatest opportunity?

A: Africa and Middle East are spending huge amounts of money on infrastructure, primarily on microwave. Southeast Asian countries such as the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam are excellent sales prospects and Exalt is bidding on high profile projects in these countries. Eventually China and India will be much more lucrative for Exalt, but the sales cycles in these countries takes a long time. Nevertheless, China and India are key markets for us. Brazil is another one whose potential is huge. They have a lot of large projects and the country needs to upgrade its telecommunications infrastructure badly. Because it did not suffer as much from economic crisis, Brazil has a lot of money to spend on upgrades.

In North America, emerging carriers such as Clearwire are spending the most on upgrading infrastructure. The Tier 1 carriers claim to be deploying a lot of fiber, but demand for bandwidth is outstripping their capacity faster than they can roll out their fiber networks. Starting 2011 and going to 2012, they will need to do more microwave because it does not make much economic sense to focus solely on fiber.