Industrial Wireless Providers Do Deals

September was a busy month for consolidation in the industrial wireless arena, with two companies in the space announcing acquisitions that broaden their footprints.

Sixnet LLC (www.sixnet.com), a Ballston Lake, N.Y.-based supplier of machine-to machine (M2M) data communications products, announced on Sept. 9 that it has reached an agreement to acquire JBM Electronics Co., St. Louis, a provider of networking connectivity solutions.

Then, on Sept. 17, RuggedCom Inc. (www.RuggedCom.com), a Concord, Ontario, Canada, maker of rugged networking solutions for use in harsh environments, announced that it will pay $9 million in cash to acquire all the shares of WiNetworks Ltd. (www.winetworks.com), New York. Under terms of that 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.

Solidification

Speaking of its JBM acquisition, Sixnet said the deal solidifies the company’s position as a leading provider of wireless networking solutions across a broad range of mobile operators and geographies.

Sixnet currently markets a line of rugged industrial and commercial products under the BlueTree Wireless brand. JBM is a provider of network connectivity solutions for enterprise- class customers. JBM Electronics provides a total connectivity solution to commercial and industrial enterprises, including embedded protocol conversion solutions; highly secure and reliable Internet Protocol (IP) and cellular networking solutions; design, project management, configuration and deployment services; and back-end monitoring, managing and maintenance.

“Our acquisition of JBM Electronics further enhances Sixnet’s emergence as a global leader of wireless networking solutions. We are principally focused on solutions that will make our customers more competitive, by removing costs from their business,” said Hilton Nicholson, Sixnet chief executive officer. “JBM’s customers have consistently benefited financially from the innovation in design and the reliability of product in the field.”

RuggedCom was equally upbeat about its WiNetworks acquisition. 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 RuggedCom announcement. 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 that 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 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.

Sixnet LLC
www.sixnet.com

RuggedCom Inc.
www.RuggedCom.com

WiNetworks Ltd.
www.winetworks.com

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