There have been a lot of changes lately at Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited, including a restructuring and a name change to Cambridge Broadband Network Group. Nigel Hall, company CEO, answers questions here about how the company has evolved to overcome the difficulties and to meet new opportunities.
Could you tell us about the history of Cambridge Broadband Networks and your pedigree?
With more than 20 years’ experience, Cambridge Broadband Networks is a respected technology leader within the licensed point-to-multipoint (PMP) space with a global customer base, well-known for developing innovative solutions for backhaul and Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) applications. Having a strong reputation, we set the bar for technical excellence, high-quality network resilience and effective support with our high-end products and award-winning global support services, guaranteeing the optimisation of network performance to meet the changing pace of end-customer requirements.
What went wrong with Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited?
It was a really challenging time for Cambridge Broadband Networks Limited (CBNL), as the industry was seeing a big shift in licensing and regulatory activity and a huge uncertainty around 5G. This caused a lot of operators to believe that they would lose their spectrum licences at 26 GHz and 28 GHz, which in turn saw fewer customers committing to network expansions. This, alongside other market challenges such as topology changes and operator acquisitions and mergers, put CBNL in a difficult position and meant the company was unsure which way to turn for the next-generation of our market-leading products.
In the meantime, that left us with just the sales from our 10.5 GHz product which became unsustainable due to significantly less bandwidth being available to operators who were already struggling to meet capacity needs. However, many of these started turning to cheaper, less reliable solutions working within the unlicensed bands to sustain their operations.
During this time though, CBNL managed to innovate in other ways to facilitate optimization and efficiencies for our customers who wanted to continue using our products and services. Working in partnership, we used our planning tool suite to help operators squeeze even more from their networks by optimizing and correcting any issues that surface when networks have been allowed to grow organically over a number of years.
With the industry now stabilizing, there is a lot more clarity on what operators and wireless internet service providers (WISPs) are looking for. With its customers obtaining 5G pioneer band licenses, Cambridge Broadband Network Group (CBNG) is looking forward to working with organizations worldwide to achieve high-quality connectivity.
What lessons have you learned as a business?
With our extensive experience, we are already experts when it comes to operating high-quality networks at millimetre and microwave frequencies. However, we recognize that customer expectations for affordability and performance have evolved over the last few years and as such we need to develop our product offering in line with this. Moving forward, CBNG has learned that continual innovation is key to meeting the changing customer needs, instead of trying to adapt a legacy solution to a new market requirement. As such, we will be offering our existing product and service line to existing customers but innovating a new platform which will be a game-changer for the FWA market.
Why did you feel it was important to rebrand the business and what is the difference between now and then?
Having gone through an essential restructure, driven by the challenging trends within the industry, we felt it was right to refresh the company whilst keeping the influential and well-respected Cambridge Broadband Networks name. As a result, we are moving forward with a fresh start and new ideas but keeping our rich heritage and extensive expertise.
The CBNG vision is to create a group made up of many parts –- where we still provide our VectaStar platform, alongside a new software as a service (SaaS) business and a unique platform which is in development that will revolutionize the FWA market – offering a range of solutions and services to address the challenges faced by the industry.
Having reset our manufacturer and supplier relationships, CBNG can offer customers a portfolio of services and products which will enhance their networks while offering a short lead time and seamless delivery experience. We can also provide the same knowledge and capability of deploying microwave networks as we did before, but with new ideas and innovations. We are looking forward to working with WISPs and operators worldwide to provide customers with the reliable, high-quality connectivity that they have come to expect from CBNG.
How are you going to reassure customers that Cambridge Broadband Network Group can deliver?
Having new owners and strong financial backing, CBNG is in an excellent position from which to move forward and deliver high-quality technology which will tackle the ongoing issues within the FWA industry. Customers can be assured that the trusted Cambridge Broadband Network’s name is here to stay and prosper to longevity through its ability to innovate cost-effective, high performance solutions.
Stakeholders can also be assured through CBNG’s ability to adapt to the current situation and to offer customers a far smoother experience when it comes to the delivery and implementation of their products. By working closely with suppliers and manufacturers, the capability that CBNG had previously has been reset to offer a seamless experience in terms of delivery and ensure that our products continue to meet the challenges of change. The fact that we have been able to do all of this during the current pandemic reflects our operational ambition to change.
How are you going to adopt your previous experience and principles in line with your new strategy?
As CBNG makes an impact as a new entity, the industry can anticipate a high-calibre, highly experienced vendor for the FWA market. With over 20 years’ experience, customers can expect extensive knowledge of the industry, high value services and reliable high-quality products alongside insightful industry experience to continue the legacy of the Cambridge Broadband Networks brand.
Having assessed in detail what our consumers want, CBNG is committed to making high-quality products at an affordable price and ensure they have short lead times to provide the best customer satisfaction. We are continually innovating our solutions to ensure they are not of a legacy nature and have a clear and concise roadmap for their evolution. Overall, CBNG aims to provide WISPs and operators with high performance solutions that are competitive both in terms of cost of deployment and network management.
What announcements can we expect to see from CBNG in the near future?
CBNG is looking forward to sharing a lot of great ideas and announcements which will boost the future growth of the FWA market. As a well-respected brand we will continue to share our first-hand experience and detailed knowledge on the challenges that operators and WISPs worldwide face – in particular when deploying Gigabit FWA networks and how WISPs with 5G pioneer band licenses in 24-31 GHz will be able to access Gigabit fixed wireless performance without the need for costly infrastructures – after all end-customers care more about whether they are receiving high-quality connectivity than they do about how they receive it.
With the launch of our new development programme, CBNG is working hard to create innovative solutions for the FWA sector and the industry can expect to hear some new product announcements in the coming months alongside exciting information about our new SaaS planning and network management services.
As the newly rebranded CBNG grows, we will be looking to incorporate more expertise and skills into our innovative team by hiring the best talent within the industry and share with you the new people helping us on our journey. CBNG will also look to announce news of any exciting partnerships, customers and updates on current customer relationships as business develops and we work together to tackle the issues facing the FWA and PMP space.
What does the future of CBNG look like?
CBNG has a bright future in becoming once again a market leader known for its technical excellence and innovation. Having restructured, the business can refocus on providing operators and WISPs with game-changing solutions and services that will offer the best performance possible and address the specific needs of the industry. With an innovative development program, which will result in a truly transformative product for the FWA market, new effective services and the highly acknowledged and field proven VectaStar platform, CBNG will once again set themselves apart with disruptive and bold products that the industry didn’t know they needed – until now.
Nigel is a tech, media & telco sector executive having been in the industry for over 35 years of his career. He has led businesses in a variety of C suite executive roles from start-up to mature, corporate business units at Orange, KPMG-McLaren (F1 Automotive), KPMG, Cable & Wireless Worldwide, Telefonica O2, PRS for Music & France Telecom where change, growth & business transformation has been key to the success of the business.
Nigel joined CBNL in October 2019 as chief restructuring officer where he successfully steered the company through a transformational phase where he now continues as the CEO of Cambridge Broadband Networks Group.
Source: Cambridge Broadband Networks Group