Flarion Seeks Defense Contract

Flarion Technologies and Northrop Grumman are planning to announce a joint project on Monday that aims to get a slice of the billions of dollars that are expected to be spent on "Homeland Defense" projects over the next few years.

The firms are pitching a self-contained national wireless communications system based on Flarion's Flash-OFDM technology that would enable security personnel, the emergency services, and government workers to securely broadcast voice, data, and video to each other and relevant agencies (see Flarion VC Touts Carrier Trial).

Flarion's Flash-OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) technology uses a digital modulation technique that splits the signal into several different strands at different frequencies. Flarion has implemented its own version of OFDM in its RadioRouter base station, which overlays existing cell sites and spectrum and provides a routing interface to existing IP networks.

In recent trials, the firm's system has delivered data at 1.4 Mbit/s over 1.25MHz, at a range of up to four miles. This would provide enough bandwidth to enable more data-intensive streaming like video or complex maps.

The potential of this technology recently led Unstrung to give Flarion the No. 1 position in its ranking of Top 25 private companies (see Unstrung's Top 25 Startups).

Northrop Grumman has set up a demonstration Flash-OFDM network in Chantilly, Va., which has been visited by a number of military and government representatives, according to Pat Talty, director of communications systems at Northrop IT's TASC business unit.

The firms plan to build a larger demo network around Chantilly "within a month," Talty says.

But will the government actually spend money on a separate wireless network, made especially for official communications?

Talty is convinced that they will. "Everyone is in solid agreement that a solid communications network for the nation is necessary," he says. Northrop picked Flarion because their technology offers high-speed data transfer and is easy and inexpensive to roll out, he explains.

If all the Homeland Defense budgetary requirements are approved by Congress in the Fall, Talty expects to see some pilot projects being initiated soon afterwards.

Of course, if the government decides to use Flarion technology in its network -- and that is still a big if at this point in time -- it could be a major boost for Flarion's commercial aspirations. "Absolutely I think it would help," says Flarion president, Mike Gallagher. "It would be a huge awareness coup." — Dan Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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