True-Grit Wireless tries to rise from Cell-Loc's ashes

The head of True-Grit Wireless, who has taken over patents that originally belonged to a geo-location services company formed in the 1990s, is searching for a way forward to leverage that intellectual property.

"At the moment, we're entertaining all options that seem to make sense," said Boston-based serial entrepreneur John Redding, who controls the remaining assets of Cell-Loc Location Technologies.

Cell-Loc, which was founded during 1995 in Calgary, Alberta, hoped to gain market share in the nascent wireless location-based services industry that many in the 1990s expected would be jumpstarted by the FCC's E911 mandate for mobile carriers. Cell-Loc's technology used time difference of arrival (TDOA) hyperbolic trilateration to calculate the location of its Cellocate Beacon RF transmitters.

After years of financial struggle, Cell-Loc reorganized and in November 2011 transferred its intellectual property to a newly formed company, Times Three Wireless.

That company installed a commercial geolocation network in Sao Paulo, Brazil, where the technology was used for stolen vehicle recovery services. Times Three had one customer, an insurance company, and its technology was installed in some 50,000 vehicles, said Dave Guebert, Times Three CFO.

But Times Three subsequently ran out of money, leading Redding to buy its assets, which provide the foundation for True-Grit. True-Grit, in turn, is a subsidiary of Redding's firm InFedra, which aims to monetize the assets of struggling companies. Redding also founded Capital Alliances, described as a syndicated private investment partnership that funds emerging companies.

The majority stockholders of True-Grit's predecessor organization, Times Three, are jointly venturing with InFedra. Together, they are seeking partners to help spin out True-Grit or engage in a merger, joint venture or partnership. Alternatively, they are also open to True-Grit's acquisition by a third party.

The True-Grit patent portfolio consists of three issued patents and 22 patent applications with a total estimated market value of about $15 million, according to InFedra.

True-Grit's narrowband wireless data networking system typically works in the unlicensed 2.4 GHz band and only uses 5 Hz of bandwidth when transmitting. "We're not competing with cellular or Wi-Fi or any of that kind of stuff. It's a very slow native network," Redding said.

The True-Grit network as it is currently being marketed consists of stationary antennas with nearby processing systems; TeleMates, which are receiver/transmitter devices; a centralized datacenter; and Internet accessible operations. A company data sheet claims True-Grit's system can support up to 600,000 TeleMates.

The data sheet also notes that because True-Grit's antennas are receive-only, they do not create interference and can be placed on almost any structure, including cell phone towers.

Guebert said True-Grit's technology could be used for security applications, relaying signals from remote sites, warehouses, shipyards and the like. The technology also could be used for telemetry, transmitting small packets of data in any environment. Examples include meter-reading data or environmental data.

Guebert stressed that in these scenarios, users would need only connect to the True-Grit network and would not have to access cellular or mesh data networks.

True-Grit's backers are pushing a technology vision in which a network might be deployed in a market such as Washington, D.C. Using one antenna, one data center and 1 million TeleMates, the network could be used for metering, security, monitoring or other tasks. Some applications could be offered initially with others being tacked on later.

True-Grit's data sheet says that in metering alone, the system's largely incremental costs to cover Washington, D.C., would be about $2.50 to $6.00 per installation, or $2.5 million to $6 million for the complete network.

For more:
- see this this Infedra webpage

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