Not Only Is Ricochet Still Around, But It's Been Sold, Yet Again

from the how-do-they-do-it dept

When Ricochet was launched in the late ’90s, its cellular modem service for laptops was pretty unique. However, services from major mobile operators quickly passed it in terms of data speeds, coverage and price, and Metricom, the company behind Ricochet, eventually went bankrupt in 2001. Since then, it’s traded hands several times, but its owners have never had much success with it — which is hardly surprising, again, given the way it’s been surpassed in nearly every aspect by other mobile broadband services, as well as the proliferation of WiFi hotspots. The surprising part is that Ricochet still exists at all, but it does, and — brace yourself — it’s been sold again. It looks like the company only offers low-speed mobile service in the Denver area at this point, but it appears to be trying to expand into the WiFi market as well. We would say that it’s probably not long for this world since it still doesn’t offer much (if any) benefit over other services, but with the way it’s managed to bounce around and stay afloat, perhaps we shouldn’t.

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Companies: ricochet

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Comments on “Not Only Is Ricochet Still Around, But It's Been Sold, Yet Again”

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Myself (user link) says:

It's not the network, it's the concepts.

Ricochet’s strength is not their existing deployed hardware. It was ahead of its time, and flopped in the market. Their patent portfolio, on the other hand, is highly relevant to mesh networking.

Terabeam (which owns Proxim and owned Ricochet) just (july 2) sold two patents to undisclosed purchasers. I’m curious which ones they were, and who they went to.

Ricochet’s original brain trust left and founded Airespace, which got eaten by Cisco and became the now-widely-deployed Cisco 1500 outdoor mesh accesspoint. Put a Cisco 1500 next to a second-generation Ricochet network radio, and you can’t tell the difference. They’re literally built into the same aluminum housing.

Their intellectual property is going places, even if the original network isn’t.

Personally, I’m interested in using the still-installed poletops as a modest-speed transport network for amateur radio experimentation, among other things.

evgen says:

The tech is still applicable to unlicensed chunks

Given how well the Ricochet technology operated in a crowded unlicensed band of spectrum I am not surprised that its IP is still valuable. For those who did not have get to share the joy of these devices when they were the hot new thing (i.e. back when you were the only person at the coffeeshop who was online 🙂 this was a spread-spectrum, frequency-hopping mesh network that ran on a set of a collection of small slices of the 900Mhz spectrum. Very cool stuff, but the company managed to completely screw the pooch by making some very dumb business decisions.

Someone smart who applied the same techniques to the now-saturated 2.4Ghz band would have themselves a very useful product…

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