TeleCommunication Systems' recent acquisition of microDATA for $37 million — $20 million of which was paid in cash — will enhance the TCS product portfolio for 911 services, as well as provide additional sales channels, according to an official for the company.

Completed three weeks ago, the deal will allow TCS to offer customers microDATA's mature suite of geographic information system (GIS) solutions and customer premise equipment for public-safety answering points, including computer-aided dispatch and call-management products. A second, and perhaps more important reason, for the transaction is that microDATA sells its products through reseller channels such as wireless operators.

"Typically, we have sold directly to the customer," said Chris Nabinger, senior vice president of service bureau operations for TCS. "The microDATA suite has been sold very effectively though that reseller channel, so this is a whole new way for us to address the market."

Among the biggest TCS customers are the state of Iowa and the North Central (Texas) Council of Governments, for which TCS provides next-generation 911 technology (including ESInet solutions). In addition, TCS provides NG-911 network monitoring services to the state of Tennessee.

For microDATA, the allure of the deal is the ability to draw from the extensive TCS resources, according to Nabinger.

"TCS is a fairly large public company, where microDATA — while it is important in the next-generation space and is developing the reseller channel — is still at an embryonic stage," Nabinger said. "So, with TCS' resources — financial, people, tools and technology — it gives them and us as a whole, a great opportunity to address a greenfield market."

Only 20% of the country's population is in areas where NG-911 deployment contracts have been awarded, Nabinger said.

"So, you can see that the market is at a very early stage," he said. "There's a lot of opportunity, and microDATA will be much better prepared to deliver on this market as it starts to really open up."

For end-user customers, the value of the acquisition is that microDATA now is backed by an ISO-certified company that has governance and standards in place to ensure quality of service, Nabinger added.

"They can feel more comfortable in the sense that the guys that have been providing public-safety software for 13 or more years can add this kind of strength to microDATA's abilities," he said.

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