The city of Ripon, Calif., today announced that it has chosen Motorola’s mesh-networking product to provide broadband data access to Ripon employees, including first responders and those working for the city-owned water utility.

Like many other cities using the mesh solution—developed by MeshNetworks, which Motorola bought last year—Ripon’s contract focused on providing wireless broadband access to first responders within the city’s eight square miles.

However, the 2.4 GHz network also is being used to provide SCADA information for the city’s water utility, automatic vehicle location for city vehicles and backhaul for surveillance video of Ripon parks and bike paths, said Rick Rotondo, director of marketing for Motorola's mesh-networking products group.

Ripon Police Chief Richard Bull said Ripon would consider a 4.9 GHz mesh solution for public safety when that product becomes widely available. He said the new wireless data network contract is worth $550,000.

Rotondo said the Ripon deal “was completely driven by Motorola,” noting that the chances were “slim” that system integrator Lockheed Martin would have pursued a similar contract with a startup like MeshNetworks, which Motorola bought last year for its mesh-networking technology.

Indeed, Bull said Ripon had favored the mesh architecture after city officials completed their initial research last year, but the notion of signing a contract with an upstart like MeshNetworks made Ripon representatives uncomfortable.

“We were a little concerned, because they weren’t a big company; we were probably going to have to be convinced before we were going to do anything,” Bull said. “When Motorola bought [MeshNetworks], that pretty much went away.”

Bull said the decision was sealed after Lockheed Martin also endorsed the mesh product.

Rotondo said Lockheed Martin’s involvement in the deal is a sign that Motorola does not intend to keep distributing its mesh product solely as a closed architecture.

“This is our first deal where Lockheed Martin is the system integrator,” Rotondo said. “It shows that Motorola is very willing to work with other companies.”

Such partnerships are critical for mesh networking to be deployed rapidly and reach the potential that Rotondo and other former MeshNetworks employees envisioned for the technology.

“You can learn from IBM and Apple—if you’re proprietary and insist on doing everything in-house, you can make great margins but only end up with 7% of the market,” Rotondo said. “If you’re open and work with partnerships, you may not get as much margin, but you can end up with 93% of the market.”