Rajiv Laroia, Flarion CTO talks

A few months ago I had a chance to chat with Rajiv Laroia, chief technology officer and founder of Bedminster, NJ based wireless broadband company, Flarion. We discussed Qualcomm, Europe and how the 450 Mhz is a big opportunity for the company. Even though the interview is old, the comments hold true even now, especially in the light of company’s recent win in Finland. Here are excerpts from that an interview.

OM: Rajiv, looks like this Sprint-Nextel deal is a big setback. What do you do next?
Rajiv Laroia: We never built this company for one operator. When we initially designed and conceived of this technology on the system it was meant to be going after the European market. When we looked at the European standards and we didn’t think that there was enough data and that there needed to be broadband wireless Internet.

OM: Is it because in the U.S. you have this incredible presence of, Qualcomm in the market?
RL: We are engaged with T Mobil and they have a U.S. presence. Cingular, which is the largest U.S. carrier right now, focused on the European roadmap (GSM-GPRS-WCDMA). So if we get traction in Europe were certainly going to get traction in the U.S. because there are operators on that roadmap. And there are operators all over the world that actually are on the European roadmap.

OM: So you are hoping that you become the next evolution of GSM?

RL: I think thats a fair thing to say. Thats where were positioning ourselves, to be the data evolution of the GSM, WCDMA roadmap. We will clearly delineate between where the spectrum is, the available spectrum is. So when it comes to the U.S. clearly 700 megahertz continues to be an opportunity, and in Europe we 450 MHz.

OM: You know, nothing comes easy to Flarion, does it?
RL: Well, nothing was supposed to. [Laughter] Most startups pick up big niche ideas, niche markets to go after where most big players are not focused. Early on we made a decision not to do that and we made a decision to play with the big boys on their turf. Nobody thought that was going to be easy. So were not a company that is trying to get into some fixed wireless market where nobodys paying attention. Were trying to go after Qualcomm. We know we are dealing with the giants.

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