RF power-saving company gets funding boost

More funding for company that promises to boost RF power amplifier efficiency

Tim Haynes, CEO of Nujira, says the money should see the company through to break-even. The Series C round also attracted a new investor in the form of the Environmental Technologies Fund, which is backed by institutional investors including Swiss Re.

Nujira has developed an envelope-tracking technology which matches the power being supplied to the power amplifiers in RF systems such as broadcast antenna and cellular basestations and handsets with the instantaneous load. This obvious, but difficult to implement, trick can save substantial amounts of energy, cutting operating expenditures for infrastructure providers, extending battery life and so reducing weight in portable applications, and offering opportunities to simplify systems design.

The company has now been in production with Coolteq modules for use in basestations for two months, and hopes to increase production to thousands of parts per month so it can support the introduction of 4G cellular basestations. According to Jeremy Hendy, vice president of sales and marketing at Nujira, there are currently around 4.5 million cellular basestations worldwide, each with between one and six power amplifiers. This, combined with the increasing number of frequency bands that operators want to use, creates an opportunity for Nujira's technology, the company believes.

"The move to LTE will be a lot faster than the industry expects," said Hendy. Haynes added: "New standards are great for us because new technology tends to get introduced at these inflection points."

Nujira says that energy now accounts for around 25% of a cellular network's operating costs, and that US network Verizon is now estimated to be spending $2bn a year on it. The company claims that half of the energy delivered to a cell site is wasted in the power amplifier, so efficiency gains here can translate into major savings for operators. Nujira also estimates that the energy wasted in the power amplifiers of the UK's digital TV infrastructure is greater than that generated by the world's installed base of wind power.

Nujira believes it will have substantial opportunities over the next seven or eight years as 40 countries around the world deploy new TV networks. The roll-out of 4G basestations, supporting up to 14 frequency bands in some cases, will also provide an opportunity. And the company has just taped out is first chip for use in handsets, where the adaptable nature of the Coolteq technology may make it easier and cheaper to support the multiple radio front ends that sophisticated mobile devices now use.

Nujira is also making its first forays into the defence business, where increased RF efficiency could translate into a lighter battery load or longer transmission times for soldiers in the field. 

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