Los Gatos, California - July 21, 1999 - Metricom, Inc. (NASDAQ: MCOM), leading provider of mobile data networking and technology, announces completion of the Beta testing phase for its 128 kbps mobile data network. During the second quarter, the Company deployed a Beta test network based on the successful outcome of its Alpha field trial, and engaged more than 250 San Francisco Bay Area customers in a rigorous test program as part of the preparation for nationwide deployment of the new higher-speed mobile data service.
"Exiting a successful Alpha trial and bringing customers into the test mix was a significant milestone in the delivery of our high-speed nationwide mobile data service that we expect will outpace alternatives for wireless data access for the foreseeable future," said George Wren, Vice President of Strategic Marketing for Metricom. "Ricochet was designed from inception to serve professionals with the highest speed available for mobile data access, always on connections to LANs and the Internet, and flat-rate billing. Performance of the test system further proves 128 kbps mobile data access is a reality, and the beta program re-confirmed the benefits of our technology."
As a key component of the Beta test, participants were asked to use the service as part of their daily routines and provide feedback to Metricom. This customer feedback further validated Ricochet's benefits, which ultimately change the way people work and live with information.
"I am a Realtor in the Silicon Valley. Ricochet2 is my lifeline! My wireless modem allows me to serve my clients wherever I am in the Bay Area. I use it on the road, in my office, in clients' homes, and at my home office. No more driving back to the office or waiting for a phone line to reach the Multiple Listing Service for valuable information .At open homes, buyers are impressed I can provide instant information which matches their criteria." Debbie Key, Beta Test Participant.
"Whenever I pull(ed) out my laptop and Ricochet SE modem in a Starbucks or some other public place I would get comments and questions from total strangers. The GS modem I have been evaluating gets even more attention, and when I show people how fast the new Ricochet2 network is, their jaws just drop as mine did when I first tried out the GS modem. I can now get all the things done I want to do while enjoying just a single cup of coffee." Robert Randle, Beta Test Participant.
Metricom's Alpha trial focused on proving performance, reliability and stability by evaluating mobility support; network manageability; Wide Area Network (WAN) connectivity; and compatibility with the current Ricochet network. These trials revealed network performance exceeding expectations. Moving into the next phase of testing, Metricom deployed a beta test network covering 42 square miles, and recruited over 250 current customers to participate in this real-world deployment scenario. Metricom worked with BetaSphere, a leader in Internet-based customer feedback management solutions, to evaluate quality of service, network saturation, and other production environment considerations designed to challenge the service.
Part of the customer group used their current Ricochet modems to validate speed increases over the existing Ricochet 28.8 kbps network, while others were provided the next generation modem (called GS during Beta) to tryout performance with the fastest speed available. During the test, participants using the current modem typically saw two-times faster increase in performance over the current Ricochet system. Customers testing the new generation modems, with properly configured systems, experienced speed in excess of 128 kbps, with some incidents of 160 kbps performance.
Under the test plan, participants performed a variety of performance-related tasks including hosted events -- both onsite and virtual -- weekly performance tests, service surveys and daily usage reports. Results based on customer surveys indicate that 80% of respondents found that Ricochet2 exceeded their expectations, and 94% found the service easy to use. A sampling of Beta user comments includes:
"So far the latency and transfer rates on the new network have been fantastic! I do a lot of work over SSH connections and the latency, even while I am running large FTP transfers, is worlds better than a comparable speed modem connection. I've been so impressed with the Ricochet I borrow(ed) from work that I've bought one for myself!" Matthew Ghali.
"Ricochet2 is comparable to the system I have in my office and it is supposed to be the fastest commercial system available. I will really appreciate Ricochet when I purchase a notebook computer because I will be traveling between Sunnyvale, CA and Seattle, WA." Ralph Poole.
"I cannot tell if I am on a modem or directly connected. The response is quick and dependable." Jim Gonsalves.
"The performance of the Ricochet GS modem is nothing short of phenomenal. I have consistently gotten better performance out of the Ricochet than any ISDN line, even while driving!" Martin Bogomolni.
When the test concluded, 90% of survey respondents said they would recommend Ricochet2 to their company and friends when it's available.
BetaSphere is a market leader in providing customer feedback management solutions to organizations developing, deploying, and supporting enterprise, consumer, and Internet products and services. Customers include Metricom, Intel, Sun Microsystems, Cisco Systems, Adobe Systems, 3Com, Motorola, Xerox, and many startups. BetaSphere was founded in 1996, and is headquartered in Palo Alto, CA. For further information call 888/238-2243 or visit BetaSphere's Web site at http://www.betasphere.com.
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