Ericsson announced today (21 February 2012) that it has entered into an agreement to acquire 100% of the shares in the privately-held Canadian Wi-Fi company BelAir Networks. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.
Unlike many Wi-Fi equipment providers, BelAir focuses entirely on the mobile operator and cable company market, supplying small cell Wi-Fi technology for backhaul and data traffic offload from macro networks.
As such the acquisition is a good fit for Ericsson, which will acquire a strong carrier grade Wi-Fi portfolio, technological expertise, IPR, and established customer contracts and relationships.
Ericsson said the acquisition was driven by the recognition that Wi-Fi technology is an important part of the overall mobile broadband user experience and is rapidly becoming a standard feature in smartphones, PCs, tablets and in other consumer electronics devices.
The company believes demand for Wi-Fi technology in mobile networks will continue to grow over the coming years. This is brought on by the growth of mobile broadband, as well as the increase in cloud-based services and other high data-consuming functions and features.
To meet this growing demand, Ericsson launched its Network Integrated Wi-Fi solution in September 2011. This enables seamless connection of smartphones to operator-controlled WiFi access - without requiring a specific software client in the device and without any user interaction.
Ericsson is now taking the next step towards a truly integrated network, as it can add BelAir’s Wi-Fi base stations and access points to its portfolio. Ericsson said that the combination of its mobile infrastructure technology leadership and BelAir Networks’ leading position in carrier grade Wi-Fi equipment will accelerate the integration of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies.
The acquisition of BelAir Networks will be part of Ericsson’s heterogeneous network (hetnet) strategy to improve the mobile broadband experience by managing the co-existence of mobile technologies and Wi-Fi.
The BelAir Networks’ indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi systems enable service providers to build scalable, high performance Wi-Fi networks. The company develops mobile networking solutions that are deployed by service providers including AT&T and Comcast.
BelAir Networks has a clear focus on carrier grade Wi-Fi where the company today holds both a market and technology leading position. Established in 2002, BelAir Networks is based in Ottawa, Ontario and has approximately 120 employees. BelAir Networks’ employees will join Ericsson’s global organization.
‘Ericsson will lead the way in the growing converged Wi-Fi and cellular market where improved end-user experience is the driving force. By integrating BelAir Networks’ market-leading products and competence into Ericsson’s existing radio portfolio, we will be able to do this more quickly. We welcome 120 highly skilled people into the company,’ said Hans Vestberg, CEO of Ericsson.
‘By focusing on the needs of leading service providers, BelAir Networks has achieved industry leadership with our unique portfolio of carrier-grade Wi-Fi,’ said Bernard Herscovich, CEO of BelAir Networks. ‘This transaction is a natural step in the continued development of BelAir Networks and we believe that Ericsson presents a strategic and cultural fit.’
The acquisition is expected to close during the first half of 2012, subject to customary closing conditions.