Antenna firm makes move into RF front end

Antenova, the Cambridge antenna specialist, is moving up the value chain by integrating RF front end functions with its antennas.

“We decided to move up the value chain by adding the RF side,” Mike Edwards, v-p of sales and marketing at Antenova, told Electronics Weekly.

Until now, Antenova has been an antenna company. Originally it was an IP company, licensing antenna IP technology to Galtronics and Flextronics. Three years ago the company started manufacturing antennas and now sells them to the likes of Motorola, Samsung, Dell and HP.

Acquiring the standard antenna business of Finnish plastics manufacturer Perlos gave Antenova access to a sales and distribution chain.

Antenova’s first attempt to move up the value chain by adding RF functions is an integrated antenna/GPS module.

“We showed it at 3GSM and got a lot of interest,” said Edwards, “it’s an integrated, snap-in solution for adding GPS to a phone or other product. It’s been designed into a PDA, two mobile phones, two GPS products and a media player. We’ve had ten people in Asia for the last three months helping the design-in process.”

Antenova’s GPS/antenna module currently comes in two flavours, one using a GPS chip from SiGe Semiconductor, and one using a chip from SMIRF. The company is now working on versions which use GPS chips from other suppliers.

“We’re working to introduce versions of the integrated GPS + antenna module using chips from u-blox, u-Nav, GloNav and NemeriX,” said Edwards.

Continuing to move up the value chain, next year Antenova intends to sample a module integrating an antenna with an RF front end for cellular telephony.

“We’ve nearly finished the design of the cellular module. We expect to be sampling in Q1 2008,” said Edwards.

Antenova currently has 40 chip designers. Twenty in Cambridge, ten in Taiwan, eight in Chicago, one in Shanghai, and one in Korea.

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