Washington Business Journal, November 10, 2003
MobileAccess nets account with Capitol
| A Vienna tech firm is about to cash in on Capitol Hill.
|The House of Representatives has tapped MobileAccess Networks to install wireless transmitting equipment inside the Capitol and three office buildings so members of Congress can use their cell phones, pagers and other gadgets regardless of where they are in the complex.
The high-profile job follows a $10 million round of venture capital for MobileAccess (www.mobileaccess.com). Company officials say the congressional gig and new financing are giving MobileAccess just the push it needs to grow beyond early-stage development.
The local firm develops software and hardware used to transmit wireless voice and data from multiple networks indoors without the need for excessive antennas.
Cathy Zatloukal, CEO of MobileAccess, says the company was brought into the project by six wireless service providers that count federal legislators and staff members as customers.
"Our system works to bring all the services together," Zatloukal says. "This way a congressman using Sprint service has the same coverage as someone using AT&T."
Instead of attaching more small but relatively obtrusive antennas throughout the halls, tunnels and offices on Capitol Hill, MobileAccess places its computers alongside others already stored in the buildings. The system then connects with more than 350 antennas already installed in the Capitol and the three office buildings used by the House of Representatives.
The multimillion-dollar installation was paid for by the major wireless companies, not the government; MobileAccess did not disclose how much it made through sales from the deal, beyond saying it was less than $1 million.
Industry analysts say the service MobileAccess provides has widespread applications for any customer who wants to offer expanded wireless coverage inside buildings without installing more transmitters.
"MobileAccess Networks has honed in on a clear market need for supporting multiple wireless technologies," says Richard Webb, wireless market analyst at San Jose, Calif.-based Infonetics Research (www.infonetics.com).