Motorola Snaps Up MeshNetworks

By Ed Sutherland

November 16, 2004

With recent rulings making it even easier for mesh networks to be used by municipalities, it is little surprise that the big name company acquired its smaller partner.

In a move aimed at boosting its broadband networking, cellular giant Motorola announced today it is purchasing MeshNetworks.

Acquiring the wireless mesh networking company "brings sales, support and brand recognition that a startup could never match in a million years," says Rick Rotondo, vice president of marketing for the Maitland, Fla-based company. "We won't be MeshNetworks any more."

Although terms of the sale were not disclosed, the two companies see benefits in the union.

The sale "accelerates our technology and roadmap with mesh technology," says Adrieanne Dimopoulos of Motorola's Commercial, Government and Industrial Solutions Sector (CGISS).

The purchase of MeshNetworks provides Motorola customers "a broader solutions portfolio to build scalable broadband wireless networks capable of delivering next generation content including data, voice, location and voice over IP (VoIP) services," according to Motorola.

MeshNetworks' technology "enhances the public safety ability to handle mobile data," according to Dimopoulos.

"The acquisition also represents another step in Motorola's commitment to deliver seamless mobility to all of our customers," said Greg Brown, president of Motorola's CGISS. The purchase will benefit "all of our businesses ranging from mission critical and enterprise markets to automotive and home entertainment applications," said Brown.

For MeshNetworks, the purchase by Motorola "legitimizes the whole mesh networking concept," says Rotondo. Motorola "really understood to get to the next level, mesh networking was the architecture to get you there...centralized cell towers weren't going to work."

Founded in 2000, MeshNetworks' customers include the government, law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Motorola points to MeshNetworks as a "leading developer" of the "advanced routing technology" behind mesh networking.

The announcement comes just months after Motorola began licensing MeshNetworks' MeshConnex software while also becoming a reseller of the MeshNetworks Enabled Architecture (MEA) line of products. In addition to the August licensing agreement, Motorola is an investor in MeshNetworks through its Motorola Ventures investment unit.

The purchase, expected to be final by year's end, "gives us access to a whole slew of markets from telematics to the digital home," says Rotondo.

As part of Motorola, MeshNetworks will have increased visibility and ability to reach new customers by a large factor, according to Rotondo. The Schaumberg, IL-based Motorola has 80,000 employees —versus the MeshNetworks' staff of 80—and reported over $27 billion in sales for 2003.

Motorola already has one fixed-wireless broadband solution for residential and business customers, called Canopy. Rotondo says that technology will "provide outstanding backhaul for mesh networks."

He also believes the public safety market could be worth as much as $1 billion for mesh networks over the next few years, helped along by some recent deregulation: the FCC recently gave the okay for companies to use off-the-shelf 802.11a gear for public safety networks based in the 4.9Ghz band. MeshNetworks had said it would investigate the idea of using the 4.9Ghz band to create metro-scale networks for what it terms "mission-critical" applications, such as video surveillance.



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