Rumor: Cisco Seeks Small-Cells Smarts
The industry scuttlebutt is that Cisco is looking at possible acquisition targets, but the candidates or what type of small-cell technology they would provide are not known.
Cisco is already a player in the small-cell market through its unlicensed Wi-Fi access points and systems, as well as through its residential 3G femtocell products. The company has also said that it's working on a Long Term Evolution (LTE) small-cell product. (See Cisco: LTE Small Cell Is a 'Priority', Cisco’s Big Small-Cell Ambitions and Cisco: We're Doing Small Cells Too.)
But the M&A gossip suggests that the company is evaluating the opportunity to accelerate its own product development or expand its small-cell offering. (See Who's Big in Small Cells? and Small-Cells Shakeout Looms.)
Cisco CEO John Chambers raised the possibility of making some small acquisitions in an interview with Bloomberg last month. Among the product areas that Chambers specified for those deals was mobility, along with video, collaboration, virtual data centers and security. It's likely that any acquisition in mobility would involve small cells, given Cisco's push into this area. (See John Chambers IDs Potential Successors .)
Indeed, Cisco just added some Wi-Fi smarts last month with the acquisition of Irish startup ThinkSmart Technologies, whose software analyzes Wi-Fi traffic patterns. (See Cisco Snaps Up Wi-Fi Analytics Startup .)
So let's speculate -- who else might Cisco try to buy?
The first names that come to mind when considering small-cell access points are Cisco's long-time partner ip.access Ltd. and Ubiquisys Ltd. , both of which are based in the U.K. (See UK Femto Firm Bags $15M .)
Beyond the access points, another option could be a company that specializes in the software that helps operators plan where to deploy small cells. Considering that network planning has been identified as a challenge for small-cell deployments, this capability will be in demand. Examples of companies with these assets would include Arieso Ltd. , Actix Ltd. or Celcite Management Solutions . (See Small Cell Network Planning Poses Problems.)
And if Cisco's looking for some self-organizing network (SON) capabilities, companies in this category would include AirHop Communications Inc. and Intucell Ltd. (See AT&T's No. 1 SON and 4G Startup Revs LTE Automation.)
— Michelle Donegan, European Editor, Light Reading Mobile