Two mesh networking companies have moved forward with design wins, tailoring their first products toward homeland security operations.
On Monday, Motorola Inc. and MeshNetworks Inc. agreed to work together; initially, Motorola will resell the MeshNetworks product line, with the option to integrate the technology into its own products at a future time. In an unrelated agreement, Nortel Networks said Tuesday that it will market rival PacketHops technology in a dedicated product line. PacketHop also said it has received an additional $10 million in venture capital.
Both announcements were timed to coincide with the opening of the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials conference in Montreal. Mesh networking proponents say their technology is uniquely suited to provide a robust, self-healing wireless network infrastructure in the case of an emergency. Moreover, even almost three years after 9/11, security budgets remain high.
The Motorola-MeshNetworks mobile broadband networking and position-location solutions will be offered as part of Motorolas wireless broadband data portfolio for enterprise, utility and public safety customers, the companies said.
The agreement also gives Motorola rights to integrate components of MeshNetworks technology, including the MeshNetworks Positioning System and MeshConnex software suites, into future data products such as those in the recently allocated 4.9GHz FCC licensed band allocated to the public safety infrastructure. Currently, the Motorola-Mesh Networks products utilize the 2.4GHz band.
“Our focus right now is bringing broadband data for our broadband-enabled safety customers,” Nick Rendone, vice president responsible for wireless broadband solutions at Schaumburg, Ill.-based Motorola, said in a Monday interview. “Its a basic supply agreement, a reselling package.”
More important will be the jump to 4.9GHz coverage, Rendone said, which will take place at an undisclosed date. At that point, the mesh will be able to operate free of the interference from other RF devices that can clog the 2.4GHz band.
Nortel Networks also said it will integrate mesh networking into its product line. PacketHop sells software that, according to the company, can turn any generic access point into a mesh-enabled access point. The PacketHop technology will be sold as a complementary solution to accompany Nortels Wireless Access Point 7220, Wireless Gateway 7250 and Optivity Network Management system, Nortel officials said. The products will roll out in the fourth quarter for deployment early next year, according to Michael Howse, chief executive of PacketHop, in Belmont, Calif.
“We believe that the technology is broadly applicable, although the initial demand is clearly in the homeland security business,” Howse said in an interview.
In the Statement of Requirements for Public Safety Wireless Communications and Availability published by the Department of Homeland Securitys SAFECOM program in March, the agency calls for the deployment of “temporary and ad hoc” networks. The statement, although vague, appears to favor mesh networking.
“The command and control of Incident Command on-scene and the Emergency Manager provides for the safety and accountability of all the assets at the incident and provides information on additional resources that could be brought to the incident,” the SAFECOM statement reads. The networks for communications and information exchange are created on an ad hoc and/or temporary basis at the scenes. They overlay on one another to provide interoperability and integrate with the larger jurisdiction area networks to form a system of systems for command and control.”
PacketHop also announced that it has raised $10 million in a Series B round of financing, led by ComVentures, a venture capital firm specializing in next-generation communication technology investments. The round includes the participation of existing investors U.S. Venture Partners and Mayfield. PacketHop will leverage the capital infusion to fuel company growth and prepare for the commercial launch of its secure mobile mesh networking products, the company said. Roland Van der Meer, a ComVentures partner, joined PacketHops board of directors.
Editors Note: This story has been corrected to indicate that systems from PacketHop and Nortel are stand-alone and independent of one another. An earlier version of the story also misspelled Michael Howses name.