TMCNet:  Gallatin firm forges national defense ties

[February 18, 2013]

Gallatin firm forges national defense ties

Feb 18, 2013 (St. Joseph News-Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- GALLATIN, Mo. -- The U.S. Army is expressing renewed faith in a Daviess County company's ability to manufacture high-speed computer networks for its uses in the field.


Military officials recently decided to go public with an announcement that WideBand Corp., a private computer networking company based in Gallatin, Mo., has been selected to create high-response communications systems for Army use.

The Phase II Small Business Innovation Research contract continues a project begun in 2010 after the awarding of an initial Army contract, said president Joseph R. Billings. Run by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the SBIR program encourages domestic small businesses to develop products that have commercial potential.

Mr. Billings said the second phase actually started last April, represents an evolution of concepts developed in the first phase, and is extended by the Army on an invitation-only basis. WideBand's research and development team designs high-performance printed circuit boards and custom silicon and computer chips. Custom development and design is also done for the federal government and its subcontractors.

"It's now public information" in accordance with Army guidelines, he added of the new contract. "It's Phase Two where you usually build prototypes ... I think it's safe to say they're happy." WideBand entered into negotiations with the Army and had to compete with other firms to win its approval. The second phase of projects is valued at up to $730,000 in funding and is expected to run until April 2014.

"By the end of Phase Two, the goal is to have working prototypes of the process," Mr. Billings said. The third phase aims to match the communications products with an end customer, whether that is a U.S. Department of Defense user, government-allied contractor or commercial customer.

"We're in the process of exploring those opportunities," Mr. Billings said of the next phase. "The technology is building on our patent portfolio." The Army contract has resulted in a net growth of several more employees for WideBand, which now has between 20 and 25 personnel on staff. Phase Three has the potential of bringing on additional hires, depending on its breadth. The possible range of commercial applications includes digital video surveillance with processing such as facial recognition, signal processing and scientific research.

The future holds hope for WideBand's continued growth in other arenas of the computerized communications world.

"We are expecting to expand into additional government contracts," Mr. Billings said.

The corporation also plans to develop secure and sensitive online communications training for the defense department and its other customers. High-security data center services are anticipated to grow fast as well, with WideBand now operating such centers in Kansas City -- including one located underground for extra security.

"This plays really well for people going into cloud computing, people wanting to outsource their data services," he said.

WideBand's client list also includes those from the Fortune 500, universities and schools.

Ray Scherer can be reached at ray.scherer@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.

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