Wireless network rivals expand distribution, marketing

Two competing technology companies that develop IP-based, ad hoc peer-to-peer communications networks are widening their respective business partnerships.

Through their sales force and reseller network, Motorola Inc. officials will help distribute MeshNetworks Inc. product line, while competitor PacketHop Inc. is partnering with Nortel Networks Ltd. to co-market their combined mobile solutions.

Maitland, Fla.-based MeshNetworks products will be offered as part of Motorola's advanced wireless broadband data portfolio for enterprise, utility and public safety markets.

MeshNetworks developed a self-forming, self-healing mobile broadband networking product that includes four components: a client modem, which is either a PC card or vehicle-mounted modem; wireless routers; intelligence access points; and network management software.

PacketHop, headquartered in Belmont, Calif., and Nortel will also target the public safety market.

PacketHop provides client software that can be loaded onto any standard IP radio-equipped device, whether it's a laptop computer, a personal digital assistant or a Tablet PC. The devices are able to communicate with one another using several applications, such as multicast video, mapping, messaging and whiteboarding. Company officials also announced they have secured $10 million in financing

MeshNetworks and PacketHop have similar roots in battlefield communication projects conducted by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

DARPA officials were looking for ways that soldiers could talk with one another if the existing communications infrastructure was destroyed or unavailable. The technology, also referred to as mesh networking, allows each radio or device to serve as a receiver and a router.

Founded in March 2000, MeshNetworks' system is being used by a handful of municipal police and fire departments across the country. PacketHop, which was founded in January 2003, conducted a test with emergency response agencies in the San Francisco area and plans to announce customers early next year.

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