SRI International has announced plans to acquire PacketHop, a provider of IP-based, ad-hoc wireless mesh communications systems in an effort to expand the market potential of the fledgling company.

A company with a 60-year heritage, SRI launched PacketHop more than four years ago and will become majority owner of the company when the transaction is completed within the next month, said Norman Winarsky, SRI International’s vice president of strategic programs. Products will continue to be sold under the PacketHop brand.

“SRI is going to be working closely with PacketHop to provide it with the innovation capabilities that SRI has, which are enormous relative to what a startup has today, and to build it to the point that it can have a major impact in this world,” Winarsky said. “SRI’s got the resources to do it.”

In particular, Winarsky said SRI believes the PacketHop mesh-communications technology can be applied to many markets in addition to the public-safety sector that has been the focus of the company to date—markets that the company would be unlikely to pursue on its own.

“PacketHop has substantial resources, but nothing can replace the heritage and history that SRI has in some of these markets,” Winarsky said. “For example, in the federal marketplace, it’s extremely difficult—given the long selling cycle—for companies to begin to enter that market even in a couple of years.”

Other opportunities that SRI would like to pursue include the enterprise, digital-home and international markets, Winarsky said.

“We can open doors for PacketHop that no startup could consider doing on its own,” he said.