Based: Redwood City, CA

Founded: 2003

Why it’s Fierce: PacketHop has always been different from its pure metro mesh rivals. Instead of using a layout of 802.11-based mesh router boxes to wirelessly transfer data, PacketHop developed software for WiFi clients that allows the devices to act as nodes in an ad-hoc mesh network. That capability is especially beneficial for public safety. Imagine first responders from several municipalities converging in one place for a disaster. Rather than relying on data infrastructure that is usually non-existent, their computers immediately form an ad-hoc network. The PacketHop software authenticates all the users and then allows them to use instant messaging, video conferencing and even display everyone’s location if they are GPS-enabled. As users move in and out, they are added or removed from the network on the fly.

The Lakewood, NJ, Police Department deployed the solution during a music festival last September and has plans for a more complete rollout this year. The PacketHop solution created a broadband mobile mesh network that connected all of the computers, which shared real-time multicast video, GPS resource tracking, multimedia instant messaging and whiteboarding applications during the festival, saving the department thousands of dollars.

What to look for: With video surveillance becoming a large selling point when it comes to mesh networks, look for PacketHop to aggressively branch out from public safety into business, government and transportation.