Miquel Teixidor, CEO of Genaker – a Spanish company specialising in mission-critical broadband – speaks to Sam Fenwick about its take-up and deployment
What do you consider to be the main barriers holding back the full-scale deployment of mission-critical broadband?
In most countries, there is still a lack of spectrum, which is the fundamental resource for mission-critical broadband. A large part of the market is also unaware of the availability and benefits of these new technologies, in part due to mixed messages from the legacy PMR vendors that confuse customers by telling them the technology is not yet mature.
Genaker has been developing such solutions since 2003, although it has only really been in recent years, with the advent of LTE and the development of standardised MCPTT/MCX solutions, that the underlying networks have become robust enough to offer mission-critical broadband.
You’ve been visiting a large number of companies in the critical communications sector all around the world. What are you seeking to accomplish?
Earlier this year, we decided to expand our activities internationally, by focusing on a relatively small number of European and global markets. We are entering into a dialogue with as many companies and people as possible with knowledge and experience of mission-critical broadband solutions, to educate customers and also enter into partnerships to provide compelling, end-to-end solutions.
When speaking with end-users we try to explain that the technology is available, the benefits it can bring to them and convince them to not be afraid to take the plunge. The results have been very positive. The most daring companies (early adopters) have made the leap and, as of today, most of the companies we’ve visited are ready to shift to mission-critical broadband solutions, and each company is looking for its best moment, depending on its needs and possibilities.
What are the main considerations when deploying mobile broadband in a critical communications setting? How do you achieve the same reliability that a user would expect from a PMR system?
Each project is unique with diverse requirements in terms of spectrum, coverage, capacity, services, integration with other solutions, etc, so the first stage is to listen to the customer and understand what they are trying to achieve and how broadband services will help their operations. Genaker also works very closely with the customer together with network, device and accessories suppliers, system integrators, and continually keeps up to date with the latest developments in standards, technology and markets to make sure the final solution fits long-term requirements, parameters and targets. This requires a lot of work and a strong relationship with all our customers based on trust and co-operation.
Can you tell us a bit about your current work and priorities?
While continuing to support our existing clients, many of whom have been using our services since 2012, our most important priority is the delivery of a few very demanding and critically important projects that we have been working on for some time now, all of which are on track to go live by the end of 2019.
To make sure we remain up to date and deliver the best possible solutions, we currently have two major strands of business development. On the one hand, we continue to develop technology, applications and services, closely following the evolution of standards such as 3GPP. On the other hand, we continue working to establish alliances with partners in different domains, while searching for committed and enthusiastic commercial partners to develop this business together with us.
Why and how was Genaker formed and what gap in the market was it created to address?
Genaker was founded 16 years ago in Barcelona by former Nokia Global R&D Centre managers and engineers. By 2003 we had already developed technology based on group communications, presence, location and audio and video streaming, when Nokia decided to close the Centre down, so a few adventurers decided to bring to market our “mobile” knowledge and technological experience.
Following the global financial crisis and the advent of LTE, we decided in 2010 to focus exclusively on PTT over cellular (PoC). When the global critical communications industry decided to work together in 3GPP and created Working Group SA6, our focus switched to MCPTT, which has expanded to include the full range of mission-critical services, including voice, data and video.
We could see that in the medium term a wide range of global users would require broadband solutions such as video to complement and enhance legacy PMR voice and short data messages, so Genaker has been focusing on this potentially enormous gap in the market.
What projects have you recently deployed? Could you tell us about the most innovative aspects?
We have deployed a number of projects in a wide range of verticals including public safety, transport and industry. Some of these are based on our cloud service; others on a server located on customer premises. Some customers use our PTT/MCPTT services to complement and interconnect their legacy PMR-TETRA services, while others are so convinced by our offering that they have actually replaced their TETRA networks with Genaker PTT/MCPTT solutions.
We are currently hard at work delivering a small number of highly significant projects in our home market of Spain, in Europe and also in North America. When we are able to, we will publish more details.
Genaker was chosen and entrusted with such important and demanding deployments because we have solutions for all relevant spectrum bands including 450MHz, and can also offer eMBMS and other specialised functionalities, which result in operational efficiencies for our customers.
Genaker joined TCCA back in 2017 – what has been your experience of being part of it and how has it helped Genaker achieve its goals?
I must admit that we have been so busy since 2017 that our participation in TCCA has been symbolic so far – although we are determined to play a more active role in the future.
We have participated in previous Critical Communications World(CCW) events and also attended TCCA CCBG (Critical Communications Broadband Group) meetings. It is definitely part of our future strategic roadmap to become more active within TCCA. We will most definitely be participating in CCW 2020, being held in Madrid next June, where we will be making announcements about technology breakthroughs and significant mission-critical deployments around the globe.
What has been the most difficult challenge you encountered when setting up and establishing the company and how did you overcome it?
When my colleagues and I set up Genaker, the market was still not ready for our solutions, so our greatest challenge was finding our way and acquiring our first customers. Once we had real customers testing our solutions, the next challenge was invoicing on a regular basis and getting paid. One of our most difficult challenges today is capturing new talent.
Over the past 16 years, there have been good times and challenging times, but we have stuck to our task, remained focused on PTT/MCPTT and we have been doubling our sales for the past three years and are now cashflow-positive.
Do you have any advice for start-ups that are looking to enter the critical communications sector?
New companies entering the critical communications space must be able to innovate, stay focused and be resilient. It is important to focus on what they are best at and that they don’t spend valuable time and money until they have identified who their customers are and what their real problems and needs are.
New companies must also be flexible, agile and, above all, patient. Business consolidation in our sector can be a long process and take a lot of time, so it is important for founders to be prepared to struggle and endure. In a world dominated by large multinationals, successful SMEs must build strong, long-lasting collaboration agreements with like-minded partners. Finally, I would encourage new players to come and join us on our journey to help us develop and implement the best possible end-to-end solutions for mission-critical and business-critical users. Momentum is clearly on our side and the time for MCPTT, MCX and next-generation critical communications is now.
Miquel Teixidor CV
Miquel Teixidor, Genaker’s CEO, founded the company in 2003, along with eight former Nokia R&D engineers. It is focused on the development of advanced group communications solutions, based on real-time IP multimedia, such as PTT, MCPTT, MCX, with commercial operations in more than 15 countries worldwide.
He worked for Nokia for 11 years, first in Finland as a researcher in PCM R&D and as export manager for PMR and transmission systems, where he opened up new markets across Europe and Latin America; then in charge of the Nokia Spain Industrial Plan and as director of Nokia Mobile Phones R&D Centre in Barcelona. Miquel has a telecommunications engineering degree from La Salle University, Barcelona and an MBA from Manhattan College, New York.
Author: Sam Fenwick