GigaOm reported the M&A rumor on Wednesday, citing industry sources. BelAir's CMO Ronny Haraldsvik and Ericsson's press office wouldn't comment on the speculation.
Why this matters
The acquisition of the wireless specialist would put Ericsson into heavier competition with Cisco Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CSCO), BelAir's chief rival, not to mention smaller competitors such as Ruckus Wireless Inc. and Wavion Inc.
BelAir likely caught Ericsson's eye because it's been steadily making a name for itself with cable companies and, increasingly, telcos. It's won at least partial Wi-Fi deployment deals with Bright House Networks , Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T). (See BelAir Racks Up Cable Wins.)
Ericsson already has equipment deals with most major wireless operators, too, as well as a homegrown network-integrated Wi-Fi system that's tied to its HetNet concept. The acquisition would solidify its competitive positioning as more operators embrace Wi-Fi off-load or look to complement their wired high-speed Internet services with wireless broadband components.
Read up on the growing market for Wi-Fi off-load.
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— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile