2023 – A year of significant breakthroughs in mmWave defence, rail and motorsport

3rd January 2024 by Blu Wireless

By Mark Barrett, Chief Commercial Officer and Ciara Barron, Director of Marketing, Blu Wireless

2023 has been an exciting year for Blu Wireless, where our proposition for the defence sector has finally come of age and where we’ve paved the way for new market wins in the high-speed transport sector. In this blog we’ll summarise some of the key moments in 2023 and outline the main strategic priorities for 2024.

Continuous growth of defence applications

In 2023 we saw a significant increase in interest in the use of mmWave for defence applications. This momentum was driven, in part, by the resurgence of Electronic Warfare (EW) as a critical tactic amid the Ukrainian conflict. This shift required a significant reassessment of military doctrine and tactics, including a shift from static to mobile formations. Such mobile formations can be connected using our high-speed mesh network LPD (Low Probability of Detection) communications equipment.

Also noteworthy is the recent intensified exploration of mmWave’s role for C4ISR drone communications. During 2024 we will be expanding our product capability to meet the ‘low SWAP’ needs for this application. We will therefore be in a strong position to deliver mmWave solutions in order to provide reliable and stealthy connectivity for drones.

Success in the high-speed transport market

Blu Wireless technology had been deployed successfully in the high-speed transport market in the past, but in 2023 we made a significant step forward overseas, winning new business in the US with the CALTRAIN commuter rail line running from San Francisco to San Jose through the heart of Silicon Valley.

Blu Wireless is delivering equipment for this project via First Group to the Prime Contractor – Alstom Nomad. The contract was secured through an open international tender with our mmWave solution proving to provide be the most suitable one. This tender included a best and final Proof of Concept (PoC) stage where the Blu Wireless solution delivered over 10 times the data throughput compared to alternative 5.8 GHz trackside Wi-Fi and 5G NR solutions. As we enter 2024, it’s rewarding to see that all the necessary equipment has been provided and is ready for operational deployment which we understand will be from Q2 2024.

Overall, our rail solution has garnered significant attention within the wider rail sector so we look forward to further commercial rail deployments in 2024.

Partnership with McLaren

The recent partnership announcement with McLaren, focusing on the use of mmWave for motorsport applications has certainly been our partnership agreement of the year.

Through the collaboration, we’re targeting new breakthroughs in connectivity performance in the dynamic motorsport environment, providing a data pipe that can handle all data and video streams from a race car in real-time.

Following a successful test in North America in August 2023, the collaboration is poised to generate a substantial marketing boost for the company. We expect this year to bring Blu Wireless’ mmWave technology, combined with McLaren Applied’s intelligent motorsport gateway on-car telemetry hardware, further into motorsport series across the globe.

Launch of the year: PhantomBlu

PhantomBlu mmWave technology for defence

2023 was marked by a review and rebrand of the Blu Wireless product portfolio which is now much better aligned with our target markets.

This strategic move led to the introduction of new names for our portfolio and to the development of a new identity for our defence-focused product, PhantomBlu. Housed in a single hardware platform that is both easy to set up and operate, PhantomBlu is the first tactical radio with this level of integration on the market. Delivering 360° beamformed communications coverage upgraded with full peer to peer mesh networking, PhantomBlu represents one of Blu Wireless’ greatest engineering endeavours.

Through employing mmWave technology, PhantomBlu maintains a multi-gigabit/second throughput while having an exceptionally low probability of detection (LPD) and interception (LPI). It enables a seamless transmission of voice, data, and video at high network speeds even in challenging environments like GPS-denied locations.

DSEI 2023

We introduced PhantomBlu to European and UK customers and partners at DSEI 2023 in London. Not only was the launch of PhantomBlu at DSEI a significant milestone, but the entire event proved to be a real success. It provided us with valuable opportunities to engage with prospects, customers, and potential business partners from Europe and Asia.

The Blu Wireless IEEE mmWave technology received some great feedback from the defence community which we’ve taken on board to further develop the product for different use cases.

Overall, 2023 was also marked by an ever higher recognition of our brand by defence industry experts and peers. We were particularly pleased to see PhantomBlu being recognised and reported on by the esteemed Janes defence journal, serving as further validation of our market proposition.

Looking at the year ahead

As we’ve now firmly entered 2024, we can’t help but be both confident and excited by the multitude of opportunities that lie ahead for Blu Wireless.

Maintaining the necessary resources and focus needed to execute development projects with our defence customers will be our main focus for 2024. Combine that with our commercial delivery to customers in the rail sector from a strategic standpoint and 2024 holds great promise for Blu Wireless.

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