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Metricom Expands Infrastructure

Mobile Internet service provider Metricom Inc. is one step closer to providing 128.8 kbps speeds over its Ricochet microcell radios.

Metricom (MCOM) Thursday announced its new Plano, Texas, network operations center is open for business.

Bill Walker, Metricom vice president of network operations, said the new facility would provide the redundancy it needed to continue the firm's current expansion plan.

"The new NOC facility will support the growth and success of our expanding Ricochet Network by monitoring and managing all devices 24 hours a day, seven days a week to ensure the reliability of the entire system," Walker said. "Additionally, having two operation centers provides Metricom the redundancy needed with such a significant network."

Timothy Dreisbach, Metricom chairman and chief executive officer, said he is eager for the day when mobile professionals could get true freedom to replicate their desktop computing experience while outside of the office.

"The opening of the new office and NOC in Plano symbolizes one of many critical milestones the company has achieved during the rollout of our high-speed Ricochet 128 kbps network," Dreisbach said.

Metricom's new NOC became operational Wednesday and compliments its Houston-based facility. Both NOCs provide real time network performance management as well as technical support and management centers for its Ricochet mobile service.

The NOCs are critical to the Ricochet system because they monitor the network's intelligent microcell radios that are mounted to streetlight and utility poles to provide Internet access in motion. Ricochet is generally available at speeds up to 28.8 kbps in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle, and Washington, D.C.

But mobile clients demand higher speeds for Internet access, so Ricochet 128 kbps access is currently under construction in 21 major markets. Metricom ultimately plans to expand its services to 46 markets capable of serving 100 million users.

Metricom currently provides its slower-speed Ricochet service to about 28,800 subscribers. The firm decided to reduce its 28.8 kbps footprint in pursuit of faster speeds last year.

Earlier in April Juno Online Services, Inc. (JWEB) signed up with Metricom to provide its Ricochet service to millions of its subscribers nationwide.