Aether joins in offering new link

Start-up would help Web sites beam data to wireless devices

Telecommunications

September 12, 2000|By Mark Guidera | Mark Guidera,SUN STAFF

Aether Systems Inc. said yesterday that it will jointly develop and market with California start-up AlterEgo Networks Inc. services to help companies get their Web site content beamed to wireless communications devices.

"There are others out there trying to do this, but we think we have the sharpest tool in the shed," said Evan Deoul, vice president for wireless Internet services at Aether, the wireless applications networking company in Owings Mills.

Initial customers for the new service, named AirLoom, are expected to be companies interested in ensuring that workers in the field can access company intranet data, and online retailers and service outfits targeting consumers on the go, Deoul said.

Analysts expect growing demand for help by corporations and dot-coms that want to outsource the complexities of getting Web content beamed to wireless devices as workers and consumers increasingly turn to cell phones and other devices to handle everyday tasks.

Mark Plakias, vice president for voice and wireless for the Kelsey Group, a Princeton, N.J., electronic commerce research outfit, said AirLoom is the first Web content delivery service that will handle all aspects of adjusting and transmitting content to mobile communications devices.

"People are realizing that the toe-dipping period is about over for the wireless Internet, and it's time to get serious," Plakias said. "What was lacking was an end-to-end solution. Aether and AlterEgo have stepped in to fill that gap."

Under the venture, AlterEgo will match its expertise with configuring and adapting Web content for broadcast to mobile communications devices with Aether's huge data network, which can transmit data over a variety of wireless communication carriers platforms.

The companies said they will share revenue from AirLoom subscription sales, though executives declined to disclose specifics.

David Dowing, vice president for marketing at Redwood City, Calif.-based AlterEgo, said the companies expect to be able to get customers' Web content available for wireless communication within two weeks of a request.

AlterEgo's current customers include iprint.com, an online print shop, and Menus.com, a restaurant information Web site.

Deoul said the companies expect to announce within several weeks about a dozen clients who have signed on for the service. Yesterday, the companies disclosed one initial client's identity: Terra Networks, which operates a portal on the Web targeted to Spanish-speaking audiences.

Alex Dresser, vice president of Terra Networks, said the company signed on for AirLoom because it will provide a quick, affordable way to get Terra's content available over wireless devices.

Shares in Aether rose $2.1875 on the announcements yesterday to close at $143.3125. In early trading, shares had traded as high as $150.625.

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