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Aether, Partner to Hone Wireless Data Services


Washington Post 
Wednesday, June 14, 2000; Page E03

Rob Garretson

Aether Systems Inc. has forged a broad alliance with Critical Path Inc., one of the largest providers of e-mail and other messaging services on the Internet, aimed at providing wireless access for more than 100 million e-mail users worldwide, the companies plan to announce today.

Under the agreement, Aether, of Owings Mills, Md., and San Francisco-based Critical Path will work together to develop, promote and sell a range of wireless data services. They include providing access to e-mail, faxes, calendar information and other data from mobile phones, pagers and hand-held computers to the two companies' respective customers.

The deal gives Aether access to Critical Path's huge customer base, while the San Francisco company gets access to Aether's wireless technology and its corporate customers.

Critical Path provides e-mail systems, fax transmissions, calendar services and other applications to Internet service providers, Web portal sites and large companies that account for more than 100 million individual e-mail accounts, according to Lee Llevano, the company's vice president for wireless solutions. Among its customers are AT&T Corp., WorldCom Corp., Sprint Corp., Network Solutions Inc., UUNet and America Online Inc.

"Critical Path is the dominant global provider of advanced messaging applications," said Evan Deoul, Aether's vice president of wireless Web services. "They've got over 3,000 customers worldwide, and they power over 100 million mailboxes today."

"We really are the brand behind the brand," said Llevano, noting that Critical Path provides "back end" service to many of the best-known companies on the Internet, but individual users never know that they are using a Critical Path e-mail system.

Aether provides wireless data-access software and services to large corporations as well as wireless telephone carriers such as Verizon Wireless, Nextel Communications Inc. and BellSouth Corp.

The companies will not disclose financial details of their agreement. But it calls for joint marketing and promotion of existing products and services, joint development of new services, sharing of technology and intellectual property, and reselling of the two companies' respective products, officials said.

They expect to have customers testing new applications in the fourth quarter of this year and should begin generating new revenue from the partnership in the first quarter of next year, they added.

The alliance gives Aether access to technology and expertise across a wide range of applications from a single partner, Deoul said. "Aether really needed a broad messaging strategy for our existing enterprise customers," he said. "And when we talk about messaging, we're really not just talking about e-mail, we're really talking about the ability to synchronize and coordinate all of your personal information management."

Critical Path reported a loss of nearly $77 million for the first quarter, on revenue of more than $25 million, while Aether had a loss of more than $33 million on revenue of $5.4 million for the quarter ended March 31.

2000 The Washington Post Company

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