Startup to launch phased array communications system at Farnborough Air Show

Herefordshire startup Phasor Solutions is to launch its novel phased array antenna system at the Farnborough Air Show next month to provide broadband links on fast moving transport.

Phasor, based in Ledbury, is using the SiGe process from TowerJazz for a system that allows aircraft, ships or trucks to communicate with stationary satellites, or antennas that track moving satellites, in real time with no moving parts.

Started in 2005, the company is targeting the multi-billion dollar satellite communications and radar market with a unique, ground breaking design that it says provides order of magnitude improvement over competing solutions.

TowerJazz’s high performance 155GHz 0.18um SiGe BiCMOS process (SBC18HX)is being used for the transceiver chipset so that multiple analogue and digital functions to be integrated into a single chip, reducing the chip count and cost over GaAs parts.

The Phasor chips include all the radio frequency functions (amplifiers, oscillators) and phase shifting circuits, as well as the logic and data modulation/demodulation required. This approach to phased array technology aims to reduce costs by over 10x and provide added value such as a flat design (less than 1 inch high), conformal to any surface, modular approach, and high reliability as there are no moving parts. One of Phasor’s initial targets is wireless internet access on trains, an estimated available market of over 500 million users worldwide. However airborne satcoms and other Comms-On-The-Move (COTM) applications are likely to be larger markets.

“Phasor is carving the way for the next decades of phased arrays by providing a paradigm shift in satellite communications. It took the industry over 40 years to develop phased arrays which are typically expensive to buy and to operate. But now, with the invaluable support of our partners, and in particular TowerJazz, we have been able to deliver semiconductors which provide an order of magnitude reduction in costs compared to current solutions,” said David Garrood, Managing Director, Phasor Solutions. “Phasor has been able to achieve this milestone with the support of the TowerJazz team and relying on the stability and performance of its SBC18HX process.”  

“Our advanced SiGe BiCMOS technology provides higher integration at lower cost than GaAs solutions, allowing cost-effective satellite communications on the move to be realized,” said Dr. Marco Racanelli, Senior Vice President and General Manager for the RF & High Performance Analog and Aerospace & Defense Business Groups at TowerJazz.  

“Together, we have begun volume manufacturing to enable a high gain antenna, which consists of 20,000 chips. In addition, we continue to invest in advanced SiGe and recently announced our latest process, SBC18H3, which supports devices with speeds of 270GHz and offers a path for further performance, power, and noise improvement in next-generation products.”

Phasor Solutions was founded by venture fund Anglo Scientific and circuit designer Richard Mayo to develop flat and conformal high gain antennas to fit on the roof of moving vehicles. Since then, Phasor has raised venture capital funding through a pool of investors and has built a strong team from the South West. Mayo was a member of the founding team of Microcosm Communications in Bristol that developed order of magnitude improvements in price/performance for optical components using CMOS and BiCMOS silicon andwas sold to Conexant Systems, which also span out Jazz as a foundry. Chief Operating Officer Tim Esparon was VP of Manufacturing Operations at Microcosm spin out Phyworks in Bristol.

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