September 8, 2015
DAS provider CommScope has agreed to acquire privately-held small cell vendor Airvana as it looks to build a complete connectivity platform for enterprises.
The acquisition will bring together Airvana Inc. 's 3G and 4G LTE small cell portfolio with CommScope Inc. 's distributed antenna systems (DAS) offering, creating a company that covers all the connectivity bases indoors. CommScope notes that it will now be able to address everything from single-operator, single-band, low-capacity environments to multi-carrier, multi-technology, multi-band, high-capacity environments.
Specifically, CommScope plans to integrate its ION-E platform with Airvana's OneCell cloud-RAN system for enterprise and public venue LTE deployments. The companies are a fairly natural fit as they're both focused on cloud-radio access network (C-RAN) architectures for indoor connectivity that can support multiple operators.
Airvana's OneCell uses standard Ethernet switches and cabling to create a large single cell via an LTE controller and distributed radio nodes. It eliminates interference between neighboring macro cells via Airvana's device management system. (See Airvana DMS Promises Small Cell Nirvana and Airvana Is Back With a 'Cloud RAN' 4G Biz Cell.)
While relying on DAS, CommScope's system is designed to route network traffic as IP packets and also works with multiple operators. The two are alternatives, but increasingly DAS systems like this are being considered in combination with small cells for deployments indoors or in stadiums. (See C-RAN Small Cell Notches a Stadium Win.)
Airvana, a competitor to the likes of SpiderCloud Wireless , has shipped 1.5 million 3G small cells since it was founded in 2000. Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERIC) bought the vendor's CDMA EV-DO macrocell business in 2013, leaving it to focus on LTE small cells. It began operator trials of OneCell a year ago and started enterprise trials in the third quarter of 2014. (See Ericsson Buys Airvana Biz, Kills Lawsuit.)
"At face value it's a good fit," says Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown. "The Airvana system can be seen as an extension of CommScope's venue coverage business, and you can see why it would want to acquire this type of capability. From Airvana's perspective, it is interesting timing. Presumably, it sold because the customers considering awarding big contracts would prefer to do business with a larger company, given these deals have long-term implications for the venue in question."
Brown adds that to make an immediate judgment on the deal, we'd really need to know the price CommScope is paying. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but CommScope says it intends to fund it with cash on hand.
[Update: Light Reading has learned, from a source, that the purchase price for Airvana was $50 million.]
Want to know more about DAS, WiFi and small cells? Peruse the mobile content section and relevant sub-categories here on Light Reading.
CommScope says that Airvana's employees, based in Chelmsford, Mass., and Bangalore, India, will join CommScope, along with Airvana CEO Richard Lowe and CTO Vedat Eyuboglu. Airvana will maintain its Chelmsford headquarters and will operate within CommScope's wireless segment when the acquisition is complete, expected in the next 60 days.
CommScope's acquisition of Airvana comes seven months after the DAS provider also acquired TE Connectivity's telecom, enterprise and wireless business lines for $3 billion. CommScope boasts 17% market share in the global DAS space. (See CommScope Agrees $3B Takeover of TE Network Assets.)
CommScope was trading up 1.99%, or .65 points, to $33.30, on the Nasdaq after the deal was announced.
— Sarah Thomas, , Editorial Operations Director, Light Reading
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