Light Reading

Ericsson Adds Wi-Fi With BelAir Buy

Michelle Donegan
LR Mobile News Analysis
Michelle Donegan

Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) announced on Tuesday that it has agreed buy BelAir Networks Inc. for an undisclosed sum in a bid to add Wi-Fi access to its Heterogeneous Network (HetNet) infrastructure offering. Word that such a deal was imminent first surfaced last month. (See Ericsson Sizing Up BelAir Buy for Wi-Fi Push.)

BelAir, a privately held Canadian firm established in 2002, provides indoor and outdoor Wi-Fi systems and counts AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) among its customers. (See BelAir Racks Up Cable Wins.)

Ericsson said the deal marks a step toward creating a "truly integrated network" and will accelerate the integration of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies. As part of the Swedish vendor's HetNet strategy, the acquisition will also complement Ericsson's work on managing the co-existence of these different technologies in mobile operator networks.

The transaction is expected to close in the first half of 2012, and BelAir's 120 employees are expected to transfer to Ericsson.

Why this matters
The fact that Ericsson, the largest mobile infrastructure vendor, has shelled out to acquire a Wi-Fi access business shows just how important Wi-Fi technology has become to mobile operators. Since Wi-Fi has become a critical way to offload mobile data traffic from congested radio access networks (RAN), operators are now looking at how to integrate that technology more tightly into their networks while also improving the management of those Wi-Fi services.

Ericsson launched a Network Integrated Wi-Fi product last September that puts Wi-Fi access control in operator networks, rather than on a smartphone client. Now, with BelAir's portfolio, Ericsson will have a Wi-Fi offering among its radio access products as well.

For more
Ericsson's BelAir buys adds to the Wi-Fi buzz that will abound in Barcelona next week at Mobile World Congress.

— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:06 PM
re: Ericsson Adds Wi-Fi With BelAir Buy

Could be interesting in terms of what Ericsson can do with integrating Wi-Fi and LTE coverage. BelAir already had some massive city hotzones up for AT&T.

Michelle Donegan
Michelle Donegan,
User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:03 PM
re: Ericsson Adds Wi-Fi With BelAir Buy

The Ottawa Business Journal reports that BelAir has raised $77 million since it was founded in 2002.

I wonder how much Ericsson paid for BelAir?

Carol Wilson
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
12/5/2012 | 5:42:03 PM
re: Ericsson Adds Wi-Fi With BelAir Buy

WiFi is definitely becoming more interesting as an access technology and I agree with Dan - integration with LTE is important if operators are going to control the end-to-end experience of their customers.


User Rank: Light Beer
12/5/2012 | 5:42:02 PM
re: Ericsson Adds Wi-Fi With BelAir Buy

It certainly has been a long road for BelAir.  From the heydays of Muni WiFi and the dog days during the demise of Digital Cities, through the growth of carrier grade Wi-Fi by cablecos, we are now entering the new age of WiFi Offload and 4G Small Cells for mobile operators.  As BelAir joins the Ericsson ecosystem, the opportunity expands dramatically for GigXone™ technology to deliver HetNet capacity and enhance mobile broadband network performance.   


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