Arcwave Inc. marks the latest tech startup to come forward with a platform designed to help cable operators extend their networks and services to small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) via wireless broadband links.

The platform, dubbed ARCXtend, will help operators target the more than 8 million existing SMBs, and share a piece of the $100 billion the sector spends on voice and data services each year. About 90 percent of SMBs are within one mile of the existing cable plant, and completing that link wirelessly provides an easy and inexpensive answer, the company claims.

ARCXtend, designed to carry DOCSIS channels over wireless links in the unlicensed 5 GHz spectrum, starts with mounted network hubs and ends on the customer side with a special CPE that hooks into a standard DOCSIS cable modem.

Mounting the hub horizontally provides a line-of-site (LOS) of up to two miles, and up to 1 mile when mounted vertically. Each hub ($4,500 list) has enough capacity to offer business-class services to about 27 SMBs, the company claims. The CPE device carries a list price of $450.

Arcwave, formed in April, does not have any deployments under its belt, but it's "engaged" with several MSOs, including Time Warner Cable, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications, Charter Communications and United Pan-Europe Communications, company officials said. USA Media, meanwhile, is testing an alpha version of the Arcwave's technology in central California.

"We're about to ship beta units in the next couple of weeks," company CEO Steve Goldberg told CED, noting that cable operators can hit breakeven with Arcwave's technology with a mere 1.5 percent service penetration rate. "We think it's a compelling business case for cable operators."

Campbell, Calif.-based Arcwave is also in the process of forging an OEM agreement with an unnamed cable equipment vendor, a move that the company hopes will solidify its position in the sector.

Establishing itself in the cable industry won't happen without the threat of competition. Vendors such as Wireless Bypass and DragonWave Inc. offer similar platforms designed to give cable operators access to SMBs via wireless technologies.