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USGNN Original StoryHow the Glass Industry Can Fill Demand for Wireless Protection

by Drew Vass

Since the advent of wireless networking, companies and individuals alike have sought to lock down personal information through data encryption and network security programs. And these services have come a long way since their birth. While they are still the number one defense against wireless hackers, the window film industry is now offering an added layer of protection for a building’s most vulnerable point of access—its glass.

While a few window film manufacturers report, or at least allude to, having signal defense films in development, Martinsville, Va.-based CP Films currently has the sector cornered. A unit of Solutia Inc. in St. Louis, Mo., the company says it has been manufacturing a patented signal defense window film for the federal government for years, but only recently has it declassified this product and made it available to the general public.

“We were approached about eight years ago by a supplier to the federal government about making a window film to stop wireless signal leakage through windows,” explains Lisa Winckler, global director of technology at CPFilms’ production facility in Martinsville, Va. “Today, CPFilms manufactures virtually 100 percent of the window film used by the federal government to prevent electronic eavesdropping and wireless signal stealing.”

Developed in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Defense and CPFilms’ technology partner, ASTIC Signals Defenses, LLumar® Signal Defense Security Film uses a patented combination of metal and metal oxide layers to reduce signal strength across the electromagnetic spectrum. The company reports that its film has been installed on more than 200 buildings within various federal agencies, including the Department of Defense, Department of the Treasury, Department of State and various buildings within the executive branch. And it doesn’t stop at federal office buildings, as CPFilms says its product has also been installed on the residences of senior government officials.

In May of 2009, CPFilms announced it was making its elusive film available to the public and greater details were unveiled with its declassification. Introduced as a “high-tech, clear window film for businesses and high net-worth individuals,” the film is marketed as a means of securing and protecting the confidentiality of wireless and other “free space” electronic communications. Originally it was offered exclusively through the manufacturer, at a price that excluded the average homeowner. Instead, the company chose to target the retail, healthcare and financial services industries.

Just because the film is available, doesn’t mean it’s easily attainable, though. Some dealers say the price tag outweighs what many companies deem an extreme measure.

“CP Films has changed their marketing strategy concerning this film. They have tried to target commercial accounts for obvious reasons while maintaining their direct government relationship,” explains Mike Feldman, owner of Advanced Film Solutions a CPFilms dealer in New Port Richey, Fla. “We went to their training session back in May or June and we’ve had several inquiries, but haven’t really closed any deals. We hear that some dealers have been able to grab sales, but who knows whether this is real or baloney.”

Tommy Shoppe, a sales representative for Performance Films Distribution in Clearwater, Fla., agrees.

“CPFilms opened it up to us about eight or nine months ago, but we haven’t had a great deal of success in selling it yet,” Shoppe explains. “At this point, most people at least know about it, but it’s a tough sale,” he says adding, “It definitely takes a high level of sales expertise to close a deal on this film as opposed to the others we sell.”
Shoppe says some customers do explore the option, but, at an approximate cost of $30+ per square foot, not many are willing to go there.

“One of the companies I’m working with now on a large project actually brought it up to me. They didn’t end up going with it, but they were well aware of the product and wanted to explore the option,” Shoppe says. He says the opportunities are there, though, but mostly (still) in the government contracting and private sector.

“We work in conjunction with some of CPFilms’ representatives. They’re good at tracking down opportunities within the government sector and sometimes they’ll line us up with a project,” he says.

To read more about how this new type of building protection works, look for “Can’t Hear Me Now” in the November issue of USGlass.

Drew Vass is a contributing editor for magazine.

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