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Ricochet orders retailer to halt sales

The wireless broadband provider tells at least one retailer to pull its products from the shelves and that it is seeking new financing.

Wireless broadband provider Ricochet Networks has told at least one retailer to pull its products from the shelves and that it is seeking new financing.

Ricochet on Nov. 10 asked mobile electronics specialist Car Toys to stop selling Ricochet subscriptions, according to a Car Toys representative. Ricochet told Car Toys that it had been hit with a system outage that was keeping it from signing up new customers and that it was searching for new investors, the representative said.

Ricochet did not return phone calls seeking comment Monday.

Formerly known as Metricom, Ricochet in the late 1990s spent hundreds of millions of dollars building a 176 kilobits per second nationwide wireless Web network. Original investors included Paul Allen's Vulcan Ventures. The first incarnation of the service attracted just 50,000 subscribers, too few to keep going. The service was purchased by its current owners, then called Aerie Networks, for pennies on the dollar two years ago. It has since relaunched the commercial network in Denver and San Diego.

In April, Ricochet began targeting subscribers of dial-up Web providers America Online, Microsoft's MSN and Yahoo who want to upgrade to a broadband home or office connection.

Car Toys is waiting for an update Monday on Ricochet's status, the representative said.