Cambium Networks CEO On Going Public, 5G, And What The Xirrus Deal Means For Partners

‘Wireless is going to be the glue of the future that holds and connects the sensors, devices, and people and places. It will be the preferred way to connect as we move into the future, so the channel needs to get very excited,’ Cambium Networks CEO Atul Bhatnagar tells CRN.

Going Public

Wireless internet specialist Cambium Networks, which went public this summer, has spent its summer breaking Chicago's IPO dry spell and adding new wireless technology to its portfolio.

The firm, which works with more than 10,000 customers and close to 6,000 channel partners today, made its debut on the New York Stock Exchange in June. In August, the Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based company acquired Xirrus Wi-Fi products and cloud services from Riverbed Technology, which originally acquired Xirrus in 2017. Wireless mobile data traffic is expected to explode over the next few years, which fits right into Cambium's wheelhouse -- the company specializes in bringing wireless connectivity to users all over the world, including areas that are impossible to reach with a wired connection.

Cambium Networks' CEO Atul Bhatnagar talked to CRN about how his firm has been keeping busy with the addition of new wireless capabilities and how Cambium is already dabbling in emerging wireless technology, like 5G, in a mission to become a leader in the next-generation wireless arena.

What follows are excerpts from our conversation with Bhatnagar.

How important was going public for Cambium Networks and why was this the next right step for the company?

The IPO was a significant milestone for Cambium Networks because it gives us global visibility. It basically tells all our 10,000-plus customers and our 5,900 channel partners worldwide that we are a strong company with strong processes and financials, and that’s key. Secondly, it also gives us the ability to raise resources as we need them. And third, I always say we have best-in-class employees worldwide who work very hard along with best-in-class channel partners. Both have been instrumental in bringing Cambium to this stage.

Our worldwide channel partners have been very loyal, and they have turned our sales upwind, but the IPO is nothing but the start of the journey. We're now onto the next phase.

What do your tech investment plans look like right now and what will the Xirrus wireless portfolio add to Cambium?

Right now, we are retiring some debt and we are very judicious in how we invest. The [Cambium-Xirrus] transaction is a tuck-in acquisition for Cambium of a very talented team with a history of innovation and deep experience in high-performance Wi-Fi product designs and cloud software enabling subscription services. Xirrus’s deep multi-radio development expertise will substantially contribute to the development of advanced Wi-Fi 6 solutions as enterprises and service providers globally transition from 802.11ac to 802.11ax. Xirrus fortifies and helps accelerate our Cloud Network Service Application capabilities to address key use cases for distributed mid-tier enterprises, educational institutions, hospitality, high-density public venue verticals, and Managed Service Providers.

Wireless is going to be the glue of the future that holds and connects the sensors, devices, and people and places. It will be the preferred way to connect as we move into the future, so the channel needs to get very excited and participate in this evolution that's about to be released as the world digitizes. There will be a phenomenal opportunity for growth for everyone.

Will 5G be a big area of focus for Cambium Networks?

5G will expand our marketplace because 5G legitimizes fixed wireless broadband. It opens up new applications for Cambium, like machine to machine, real-time, low-latency communications. 5G is also adopting millimeter wave and that initiative expands our total addressable market. It will absolutely in our future play a key role, but we are already adopting 5G-like algorithms, like massive MIMO products. For example, our Medusa product – cnMedusa -- has the world's first 14x14 massive MIMO architecture, which shows we are already adopting 5G like technologies where we can because we plan on being a leader in that space.

Who is your target customer and how has the channel been critical in reaching these clients?

We focus on midsized service providers and midsized enterprises worldwide; that is our sweet spot and that is an expanding market for us worldwide. Channel partners are very adept at servicing those segments. Ninety-five percent of our fulfillment happens though the channel, so as you can tell, partners are very important to our business. Today we are working with distributors, systems integrators, VARs, and MSPs, so we have a pretty broad, deep channel.

We have a very good channel team and are constantly adding new partners as we expand into new regions and our reach. We'll be doing more interactive, self-paced trainings for partners. We welcome innovative partners to reach out to use to help us connect the unconnected people, places, and things.

What do you want partners to know about Cambium's sales and channel strategy?

Our sales strategy is very simple and dedicated. Basically, our direct, technical sales force consults with the customer and passes [the deal] on to the channel for fulfillment. We have excellent training programs for the channel to help partners scale our business. We offer mission-critical, quality [wireless] at very attractive economics; that is our secret sauce. Our solutions have highly innovative, radiofrequency algorithms and very advanced, cloud-based management which offers a single pain of glass to view and manage all solutions through one window in the cloud. This is how we demystify complex technologies so that our customers can focus on their tasks and not technology.

Our partners are been with us for many years in many cases. I would say the emerging technologies for high frequencies and 5G-like technologies, like Medusa, and advanced Wi-Fi is all going to build the future. Fortunate for us, partners are very engaged with us. We are very much working on advanced solutions right now so we can keep delivering mission-critical connectivity and keep the economic equation very attractive.