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Company and tech news from the region. Smith professor gets open-source grant

Katherine Stewart, an assistant professor in the Decision and Information Technologies Department at the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business, received a $500,000 Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Program Award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The award, which is for five years, will enable Stewart to examine factors that influence successful uses and applications of Open Source Software (OSS). The most commonly known OSS is Linux, the operating system that is considered a competitor to Microsoft’s Windows. The NSF grant includes integrating OSS into Stewart’s teaching activities and the curriculum at the Smith School.

Current to offer Internet over power lines

Germantown-based Current Communications is partering with an Ohio firm to offer customers high-speed Internet over power lines. Current Communications and Cinergy Broadband, a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based power company Cinergy, have formed a joint venture to roll out the services under the brand Current Communications. Current, which makes equipment used to deliver Internet over power lines, will manage the joint venture and provide marketing, customer support and back-office services. At first, the companies will offer just high-speed Internet, but eventually they will bundle the service with voice over IP technology, which allows customers to use the Internet for telephone services.

Ciena buys up fiber optic firms

Fiber optic equipment maker Ciena, which has been making acquisitions to offset sluggish equipment sales, is buying two more companies and reports smaller losses for its latest quarter. The Linthicum-based company reports a net loss of $76.7 million, down from a loss of $107.1 million in the same quarter a year ago. Sales fell 6 percent to $66.4 million. Ciena says it will buy Morrisville, N.C.-based Catena Networks, which builds broadband access systems, and Internet Photonics, which makes optical Ethernet switches. Internet Photonics has operations in both Shrewsbury, N.J., and Marlborough, Mass. These are Ciena’s latest in a string of acquisitions. In September, it paid $46 million for networking company Akara. Ciena was also part of a $25 million investment in Luminous Networks, and last year paid $148 million for WaveSmith Networks.

MobilePro to acquire August.net

Wireless technology company MobilePro Corp. agreed to buy August.net, an Internet service provider based in Dallas. MobilePro, of Bethesda, Md., said the purchase would add more than $1.5 million to its annual revenue. The deal, expected to close in April, should boost earnings beginning this year, the company said. August.net, founded in 1996, sells broadband and Web access to individuals and businesses. MobilePro said the gain would help it expand its telecommunications offerings.

Bethesda tech firm taps Wills

Bethesda-based KoolSpan Inc. has retained Baltimore public relations firm Wills & Associates Inc. as its agency of record. Wills & Associates will help KoolSpan, which provides wireless Internet access, design a public relations campaign that will promote its security measures for Wi-Fi connections. KoolSpan recently launched a program to automatically verify and approve users who are accessing a public or private Wi-Fi network.

Trade publication highlights Howard tech firms

Howard County technology companies Sourcefire and Tenable Network Security have been named to Network Computing magazine’s list of companies to watch in 2004.

Sourcefire, a Columbia-based network security firm, recently announced plans to expand by as many as 35 employees after receiving $15 million in funding from California-based Sequoia Capital. Tenable Network Seacurity is developing software to secure networks in a simple, automated fashion. Both companies have received venture capital investments from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development’s venture capital fund.

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