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November 29, 2007

NetMotion Wireless is on the upswing

Posted by Tricia Duryee at 4:21 PM

The Seattle-area is known for its expertise in the wireless industry.

It is and has been the home of the biggest in the game, including AT&T Wireless, T-Mobile USA, Western Wireless, Nextel Partners, Clearwire and more.

Although T-Mobile and Clearwire are the only remaining wireless operators here, it's no less of a wireless town. Tthe focus is changing instead from infrastructure to software. There are Microsoft and RealNetworks, and a host of smaller venture-backed companies doing everything from search, gaming, photo sharing and social networking.

One company that gets a little less ink, but has been around for years and is making some headway is NetMotion Wireless.

I had a chance to catch up this week with Tom Johnston, NetMotion's senior vice president of product and marketing, to get a status report.

The Seattle-based company isn't doing anything flashy. It is solely focused on the behind-the-scenes of the enterprise workforce. It focuses on helping businesses run efficiently on wireless networks. It does so by helping workers keep their applications up and running even if they momentarily drop their wireless data connection, whether they are traveling through a canyon or repairing an elevator.

What does this mean?

It means that an employee who is using ar laptop or a handheld device in the field won't be kicked out of business applications, such as a billing system, when a cell signal fades. Similarly, police or fire personnel could continue to search driver's license databases when a connection is going in and out.

Without NetMotion, it's often the case that the application will shut down and freeze when a connection is lost. We're not talking about e-mail here, but large billing, expense, sales or other systems. If this happens, an employee often has to call headquarters to report the information, which can be a waste of time.

How does it work?

NetMotion places a server in a company's data center that fools an application into thinking the connection is maintained depsite what is going on in the field.

Johnston said demand for NetMotion products is increasing because more field workers have laptops with data cards or high-end phones.

Today, the company has about 1,000 customers using 200,000 devices. Its revenues for the first three quarters of this year are up 66 percent compared with the same period last year, and the number of licenses has jumped 71 percent.

It serves companies such as Cox Communications, the nation's third largest cable provide. It has 3,500 technicians using NetMotion. The Orange County Sheriff's Department has 400 officers using the software.

NetMotion has come a long way. The company was spun off from WRQ in 2001, and was backed by venture capitalists. In 2006, it had a patent-infringement tiff with Bethlehem, Pa.-based Padcom. They resolved their issues and decided to merge the two companies.

Today, the company has 90 employees.

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Tricia Duryee
Tricia Duryee
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