Comcast Meshes With Wireless Firm

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A Sprint Nextel wireless marketing bundle isn’t the only wireless technology on Comcast Corp.’s mind these days. The company’s venture-capital arm joined with McLean Watson Capital to lead a round of fundraising for BelAir Networks, which makes wide-area wireless broadband equipment.

The Series C funding round brings BelAir’s total of venture-capital funds to $44 million and will help finance further expansion. A Comcast representative will join BelAir’s board of directors.

BelAir is pushing the concept of wireless mesh networking, in which access points incorporate wireless access, wireless backhaul and switching in hardened outdoor nodes.

BelAir technology allows cable companies to extend wireline high-speed Internet networks by providing Wi-Fi mesh opportunities.

Comcast is BelAir’s first cable investor.

BelAir’s new single-radio BelAir50 and two-radio BelAir100 wireless mesh node switches allow cable firms to deploy wireless-fidelity networks for municipal and citywide networks, college campuses, hotels and multiple dwelling units.

The units are strand-mounted and plant-powered, offering the Data Over Cable Service Interface Specification 2.0.

“You can attach then directly to fiber or the end points of the coaxial network,” said Phil Belanger, vice president, marketing at BelAir. Cable clients can deploy the nodes directly on their networks, avoiding local government-permit fees. The new products range in price from $2,500 to $4,000.

BelAir said its technology has been deployed in 100 networks worldwide, including by seven cable companies. Belanger said several undisclosed cable firms have used earlier versions of BelAir gear to create Wi-Fi hot spots around hotels and apartment buildings.

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