B.C. firms look for wireless heaven with Valhalla

Four Victoria-area companies are joining forces to create a new wireless software platform targeted at national-level network carriers and hardware manufacturers.

The lead partner in the newly-formed consortium is Wireless Energy Innovations Inc., which will roll technology from its three new partners into its open wireless operating system, dubbed Valhalla, said Nathan Brumby, the company’s president and CEO.

“NewHeights (Software Corp.) offers session-management capability to transition between devices. WebWare (Solutions Inc.) has a very advanced piece of software that allows optimization for drilling down into databases and rendering the contents. AVT (Audio Visual Telecommunications Corp.) brings very advanced imaging that can present three to five frames per second on a low-bandwidth cellular connection, and we’re putting in a backbone that is more like a network [operating system] than a device OS,” Brumby said.

Separately, the four companies sold applications to enterprise groups, but together they can present network providers and hardware multinationals with a complete solution, a much more attractive proposition, Brumby added.

“We can come along to a network operator and [offer] the ability to more efficiently manage the applications that it knows it needs to get subscribers to its networks,” Brumby said, noting that in the past few months Wireless Energy had demonstrated the alpha version of Valhalla to Motorola, March Networks and Compaq.

“The one thing that we’re very encouraged by is these very large multi-national companies are telling us that they are seeing parts of the solution we’re offering (offered separately), but as of yet they’ve not seen a whole solution (like ours),” Brumby said.

As well as actually delivering a functional OS that’s better than those currently powering wireless handsets and PCs, the major challenge facing the consortium is competition from the in-house R&D departments of wireless Goliaths like 724 Solutions, said Jeremy Depow, a Brighton, Ont.-based senior analyst with the Yankee Group in Canada.

“[Wireless Energy] is certainly not the only one that’s trying to get into this whole operating system and management area, but it’s kind of original to see a company that doesn’t have a lot of history try to get into it,” Depow said.

It is especially interesting to find such an ambitious group in Victoria -not the first place in Canada one looks for cutting-edge IT initiatives, he added.

Brumby, whose Australian accent reveals his own roots outside the usual North American IT hot spots, said he was “amazed” by the number of talented developers that he and his partners have found in B.C.

Geography aside, Brumby sees the exchange of technology and business links and contacts as a “very beneficial” move, especially as it approaches the Oct. 15 completion date for its beta version, and starts talking to Asia-Pacific network carriers, as well as those in North America and Europe.