Schwab wireless trades to use Aether technology; Owings Mills company wins 2-year pact with financial-services giant; Telecommunications


Aether Systems Inc. of Owings Mills said yesterday that it has won a two-year contract to provide its wireless data communications systems to Charles Schwab & Co. Inc., one of the nation's largest financial-services companies.

San Francisco-based Schwab will use Aether's technology in its new wireless trading service, which is expected to be introduced by the end of this year. Aether will provide software and customer support for the venture.

With the service, Schwab customers would be able to check their accounts and carry out trades using small electronic devices such as Palm Pilots, two-way pagers, hand-held computers and certain telephones.

Wireless connections are becoming increasingly common in the financial sector, and Aether is hoping to ride the crest to prosperity.

The company posted a loss of $4.4 million on $787,000 in revenue for the first six months of this year. Late last month, 3-year-old Aether filed to go public with a $75 million initial stock offering.

Aether recently agreed to buy Mobeo Inc. of Bethesda, which makes pagers that traders can use to get current market information.

"Our current effort for wireless is in the financial [industry]," said Jeffrey L. Mose, an Aether spokesman. "We've put our emphasis there."

In view of its pending stock offering, Aether declined to comment further on the Schwab deal. Both companies declined to reveal the value of the contract.

"Wireless trading is another service that we think is an important development for our customers," said Glen Mathison, a Schwab spokesman. "We're investing in this because we believe it will enhance the experience of our customers."

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