Bringing connectivity to hospitals, businesses, and super yachts

Q&A with Scott Willis, CEO of wireless networking company Zinwave.


Zinwave provides wireless connectivity for Sky's 500,000-square-foot headquarters.

Image: Thomas Nugent/Creative Commons license

Zinwave offers wideband active distributed antenna system (DAS) technology for in-building wireless coverage, with the aim of eliminating mobile and internet blind spots. Its wireless coverage equipment has been deployed in hospitals, airports, hotels, data centers, cruise liners, and even super yachts.

ZDNet recently spoke to the company's CEO, Scott Willis to find out more.

Tell me about your technology, and your plans.


Zinwave CEO Scott Willis: "They must bring in another carrier or they have to do a fork-lift replacement. What we offer is a pretty compelling alternative for a lot of companies."

Image: Zinwave

Willis: Our technology is on an all-fibre . We are a wideband , looking to advance that to 150MHz and then all the way to 2.7GHz and beyond.

We are technology and spectrum agnostic.

So whether you are talking about 3G, 4G LTE, whatever technology, we can support that deployment and we can support it in a way that is spectrum agnostic between those bands.

As the technology , and new spectrum becomes available on the market -- the example this year being the 600 spectrum band in North America -- that means that if [companies] use us, they can make the investment with some reassurance.

Currently, those sorts of changes can negate the technology changes they may have made or cause them to rip it out with all the cost involved with that.

We think that this is our opportunity to out against the competition. In 2016 we were able to bring in a number of new customers, and so we think the value is sinking in at the enterprise .

What do you see as your unique selling point?

It's really . is that we are all fibre. When you deploy a Zinwave solution against the competition, which is largely , we are minimally to the enterprise.

In the majority of them, not all of them, we are leveraging fibre that already exists within the building, so my deployment is much simpler. We tend to use the phrase, 'Wi-Fi like'. Now that's because the customer does not have to pull coax from the basement of a building with all the disruption that involves.

Number two is that -- the future-proofing. We are technology agnostic. We can evolve as the operators deploy various technologies across their macro-networks so that enterprises can take advantage of that without any overlay or "fork-lifting" a new environment. It's just a software change.

And then, of course, as new spectrum becomes available, enterprises looking to make a new investment don't have to worry about having to rip out infrastructure that they spent money on two years ago. We can support that technology moving .

The third point is the 'total cost of ownership' piece. Companies know that they can make an investment and Zinwave can support them for the foreseeable future.

That's the cost portion, but how does your technology differ from the competition?

If you look at the competition, the fibre piece is one -- fibre does not have the limitations of coax.

The second is our wideband technology. If you are an enterprise that is looking to bring in a multicarrier environment, then the days of companies like Vodafone in Europe and in the US, down in Australia, coming into an enterprise and saying, 'Hey, give me all 6,000 of your company's mobiles and I will give you a discount', are over.

Now enterprises are having to say to their employees, 'bring your own device'. What enterprises have to think about now is, because there are multiple carriers that their employees are choosing to do business with, that they have to support all of those carriers.

So when you think about my advantage, of my technology, and my radio, and all of the various technology bands that those operators may have acquired spectrum in and are operating in, then my advantage is that I can support all of them seamlessly on my wideband radio. My competition can't do that.

They must either have an override network and bring in another carrier, or they have to do a fork-lift replacement. What we offer is a pretty compelling alternative for a lot of companies.

You say you are 'technology agnostic', but that's hard to do technically, isn't it?

Well, it is. Our technology is really a new component. We've got a primary hub, which is the brains of the network. We've got a secondary hub because this is a star configuration -- we've got 8 ports on the back of a primary, and I've got 8 ports on a secondary hub. Now the radio feeds into the secondary hub, so depending on how large the building is that dictates how many radios I am going to put in, and then you can do the math, and do the star configuration back to the primary hub.

Because I am technology and spectrum agnostic, the same primary hub, secondary hub, and radios that I am sending to the US -- and Apple is an example we have here because we won the contract [with them] last year -- is the same equipment I am sending to MGM Macau, the same equipment I am sending down to Australia (to the largest outdoor mall in Sydney), the same equipment I am sending to Jeddah Airport and so on. I can support all the spectrum bands of all of the operators globally.

When you think about my cost of manufacturing, my cost of shipping, my requirement to create inventory -- because I can move the same boxes and the same radios anywhere in the world -- and support the spectrum bands and the technology, that is a huge cost-of-ownership advantage.

My competitors have specific radios, for specific operators in specific markets.

In the UK, you have an agreement with Sky. How did that come about?

That's really a pointer to where we are going. We won some significant large accounts last year at the top of the , but you can't make your living off of the top of the pyramid. You have to come down in the market and scale from there because that is what gives you great reach into the enterprise.

Sky in an example of that. Their building is about 500,000 feet, and we think that is our sweet spot. We really have a great solution for around 200,000 square feet at the low-end and around 800,000 square feet at the high-end.

Now, that's not that we don't have customers across the board -- Macau, for example, is huge. But our sweet spot represents about 80 percent of the buildings globally in that space. We think we have a great solution there and Sky is representative of that.

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