Interview with Mersad Cavcic from Pivotal Commware

  • Mersad Cavcic - Vice President of Product Management, Pivotal Commware

We at everything RF had a chance to interview, Mersad Cavcic, the Vice President of Product Management at Pivotal Commware. Mersad has designed, implemented and deployed beamforming products and solutions in three industries including wireless telecom, satellite and defense. Prior to Pivotal, he worked at The Boeing Company and Kymeta Corporation. He received his Master of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Washington. His expertise is in product strategy, implementation and their impact on unit economics and ecosystem establishment.

Below is our interaction with Mersad where he talks about Pivotal Commware and their product technologies:

Q. Can you give us a brief history of Pivotal Commware? When was the company founded? What was the objective?

Mersad Cavcic: Pivotal spun out of Intellectual Ventures’ Invention Science Fund in June 2016. The objective of the company is to develop and sell metamaterials-based beamformer products to the terrestrial wireless industry. 

Q. What is Holographic Beam Forming (HBF) technology? How is it different from traditional beam forming technology?

Mersad Cavcic: HBF represents Pivotal’s reduction of metamaterials theory to engineering practice. By applying principles of holography and translating them to RF frequencies, HBF creates and alters beam characteristics at significantly lower cost, size weight and power consumption than traditional beamforming methods like phased array and MIMO.

Q. Can you tell us about the HBF Platforms Pivotal has developed?

Mersad Cavcic: Pivotal has developed beamformers to address different bands such as 28 GHz, 39 GHz and 14 GHz down below 2 GHz so Pivotal and other OEMs can incorporate them in their wireless products such as smart network and subscriber repeaters, 5G base stations, CPEs, transport radios, drones, cars, trains, etc.

Q. What are some systems that you have developed using HBF Platforms/Technology?

Mersad Cavcic: Systems are built on platforms and include the customer-installable Echo 5G™ repeater for facilitating mmWave service penetration indoors, the professionally installed Pivot 5G™ for extending, redirecting and shaping mmWave service outdoors, and the Drone Beamforming Antenna System (DBAS) designed for tactical communications on the battlefield. As an industry, we are used to sub 6 GHz propagation characteristics, which provide wide coverage from a single base station but require significant densification for the sake of capacity. In mmWave world, the same base station will provide plenty of capacity, but will require densification for the purposes of coverage and reaching the end user.

Pivot 5G™ is a critical component in this new ecosystem. Using inexpensive HBF beamformers and facilitating easy siting due to low power consumption and size, Pivot extends the reach of baseline gNB based networks in a hub-and-spoke fashion at significantly lower TCO (total cost of ownership) than any small cell densification strategy. Its close cousin Echo 5G™ brings that mmWave world indoors, and maintains support for the usual 80% of mobile traffic (which happens indoors), while allowing carriers to reach new revenue with FWA business case, and enabling immersive experiences possible only with high capacity and low latency offered by 5G mmWave.

Q. What is the Intelligent Beam Management System (IBMS)?

Mersad Cavcic: IBMS helps network operators maximize spectral efficiency, capacity and coverage by using software to proactively place radio power where and when subscriber demand requires. IBMS is a cloud-based, phy-centric, machine learning-enabled service that, in concert with operators' own network management operations, leverages the software-defined antenna’s (SDA) ability to configure, optimize and heal at electronic speed. When operators can bring network-slicing down to the radio, they can start offering truly differentiated services, and benefit by higher spectrum efficiency, better performance, and lower costs.  

Q. Have your products been used commercially? Can you tell us who is using them and where they have been used? How have they benefited by using Pivotal solutions?

Mersad Cavcic: Verizon has been deploying Echoes since early 2020 in a variety of venues like MDUs, retail stores, enterprise conference rooms and lobbies, and the Superbowl. Pre-commercial Pivots have been deployed outdoors by Verizon in support of its 5G markets. Field-testing by other carriers is underway in the US and overseas.

Q. Can you tell us more about your recent collaboration with Verizon?

Mersad Cavcic: Verizon approached Pivotal in 2017 about facilitating mmWave penetration from outdoors to indoors. Within month we were trialing early prototypes of Echo and later, Pivot. Pivotal believes that its low C-SWaP (cost, size, weight and power consumption) smart repeater technology is essential for growing the 5G mmWave space whose plentiful bandwidth is uniquely suited to delivering on the 5G experience that subscribers expect and will pay for.

Q. Can you tell us more about how Pivotal Commware is helping slash 5G mmWave deployment costs?

Mersad Cavcic: The Echo 5G and Pivot 5G – deployed in conjunction with base stations, i.e., gNBs, allow network operators to reach more 5G mmWave subscribers at lower cost than deploying gNBs alone. This is because, due to mmWave propagation characteristics, deploying fiber-connected gNBs alone requires deploying more of them – at greater cost per subscriber -- to achieve the same coverage as deploying fewer of them with Pivotal repeaters.  Such metrics, as well as where and how many gNBs to deploy, are generated by Pivotal’s proprietary modelling tool, WaveScapeWaveScape was used to model the results described in a white paper.

Q. Are you developing products for a specific set of 5G mm-Wave Frequency Bands? or Countries? With so many different 5G Frequency bands at play, what is your globalization strategy?

Mersad Cavcic: Pivotal’s focus will be on mmWave for the next year or two because, although it’s less widely deployed than 3.5 GHz, HBF’s lowest C-SWaP will dominate the mmWave space indoors outdoors. Verizon and several carriers in Asia will provide ample mmWave business in 2021, during which time Pivotal will foray into 3.5 GHz.

Q. Other than 5G, what are some areas where the HBF Technology can be used?  

Mersad Cavcic: As noted, Pivotal has developed HBF technology for tactical drone communications. HBF antennas can conform to curved surfaces like the underside of an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV). Low size, weight, and power – and aerodynamic conformance – allow UAVs to fly farther and faster, devoting less payload to typical communications gear and enabling wholly new mission profiles. Commercial Air-to-Ground broadband infrastructure shares many of the same benefits from HBF and remains a market for Pivotal platforms and systems.