Vivato Shuts Down Operations

Unstrung and WiFiNetNews are reporting this morning that Vivato has ceased operations.

The Spokane, Washington-based company made a big splash with its debut in 2002, securing $20 million in venture capital to back what it called at the time a “Wi-Fi switch.” The product was very different from the switches of other startup WLAN switch companies like Airespace, Trapeze and Aruba — it was  a large, wall-mounted panel using smart phased-array antennas with a patented PacketSteering technology  to provide 802.11 covering an entire floor of a building. Later, they created an outdoor version. Eventually, the panels were renamed as Base Stations. The company also created microcell access points to provide lower-cost coverage for indoors.

The company was dogged by production delays and management changes. It took a long time to embrace 802.11g after most of the industry had already done so. Costs for the equipment were also high — at its debut in October last year, the outdoor base station with 802.11g support (model VP2210) was priced at close to $10,000. New technologies like WiMax and MIMO-based 802.11 likely put a very tight squeeze on the company.

Just last week, the company announced what may have been its last sale, to the Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg. The school is using two VP2210 Base Stations mounted on buildings (plus ten microcell APs) to cover the entire campus with 802.11g Wi-Fi. Other big deployments announced included Vivato-powered hotzones in the cities of Frankfort, Kentucky and Kent, Washington.

Calls to Vivato headquarters and spokespeople have gone unreturned today.

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