RuggedCom Acquires WiNetworks Ltd.

The deal, valued at $14 million, extends the RuggedCom Smart Grid strategy by adding WiMAX wireless broadband technology.

RuggedCom Inc. (www.RuggedCom.com), a Woodbridge, Ontario, Canada, maker of rugged networking solutions for use in harsh environments, announced on Sept. 17 that it will pay $9 million in cash to acquire all the shares of WiNetworks Ltd., New York. Under terms of the deal, RuggedCom said it will also assume WiNetworks’ debt of approximately $5 million.

WiNetworks is a provider of systems based on WiMAX 802.16e mobile broadband wireless technology (for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access). The company’s technology is used by large private networks and service providers to extend mobile broadband connectivity over metropolitan areas. The WiNetworks WiMAX products will form the new RuggedMax product line and augment Ruggedcom’s growing RuggedWireless portfolio, RuggedCom said.

Early adopters

WiNetworks is composed of a team of wireless industry veterans who were early adopters of WiMAX technology. WiNetworks was the first company in the world to develop a small form factor base station based on the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ IEEE 802.16e standard and have it certified by the WIMAX forum certification wave 2, including MIMO (multiple-in, multiple-out) functionality, according to the announcement. Late last year, WiNetworks became the first company to have a mobile WiMAX product certified by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the 3.65 gigahertz (GHz) frequency band in the United States. WiNetworks has 57 employees with more than half of the staff in engineering roles.

“We created a RuggedWireless division earlier this year in order to capitalize on a huge market opportunity for wireless technology in our target markets,” explained Marzio Pozzuoli, president and chief executive officer of Ruggedcom. “Last month, we added a 3G cellular router to our product offering to give our customers a wireless WAN (wide area network) option through the cellular service providers. Many of our customers are looking to deliver that same type of service, but maintain a greater level of control over the performance, reliability and security of the network. WiMAX is the best technology available to extend private IP (Internet Protocol) networks wirelessly in a standards-based way. The WiNetworks product line is ideally suited to mate with our industry-leading hardened networking products and drive automation further into the electric grid,” Pozzuoli continued.

Product line-up

The WiNetworks product offering consists of small-form-factor base station variants with differing power options, and are available in a choice of licensed and unlicensed bands. In addition, WiNetworks has a line of subscriber devices for fixed and mobile applications. WiNetworks offers an open, end-to-end solution by providing full interoperability with several third-party device manufacturers and various ASN (Access Service Network) gateway vendors. WiNetworks has developed an additional mode of products which allows for full operation without the use of an ASN gateway, thereby increasing robustness and reducing costs and complexity— well-suited for private network users.

"We are very excited about the addition of WiNetworks to the RuggedWireless division," said Elik Jaeger, vice president, RuggedWireless. "We believe the combination of the WiNetworks product portfolio and engineering talent puts us in an immediate leading position in the WiMAX field and complements our wireless LAN (local area network) switches and cellular routers, giving us a complete wireless product portfolio. WiNetworks has significant traction with strategic partners and end-users, which will complement our strength in the vertical markets.”

WiNetworks has shipped thousands of mobile WiMAX systems around the world. RuggedCom is already engaged with RuggedMax in trials and pilots with major electric utilities, the company said.

RuggedCom Inc.
www.RuggedCom.com

WiNetworks Ltd.
www.winetworks.com

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