Ericsson confirms BelAir acquisition

Ericsson has confirmed that it will acquire Canadian wifi infrastructure firm BelAir Networks for an undisclosed amount.

The Swedish vendor heralded the deal as the “next step towards a truly integrated network”, following the launch of its network integrated wifi solution in September 2011, and claims the combination of the two firms’ technologies will improve the mobile broadband experience by managing the co-existence of mobile technologies and wifi.

It added that the acquisition will complement its heterogeneous network (hetnet) offering with carrier grade wifi, which will enable operators to further improve the mobile broadband user experience. The firm added that BelAir’s small cells technology was also an important reason it decided to make the move.

BelAir Networks’ indoor and outdoor wifi systems enable service providers to build wifi networks, and the firm develops mobile networking solutions that are deployed by service providers including AT&T and Comcast, which are also two of Ericsson’s major customers.

Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg said: “Ericsson will lead the way in the growing converged wifi 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.”

Dimitris Mavrakis, senior research analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, added that the deal will be beneficial to both parties: Ericsson will get access to wifi and small cell technology while BelAir will be able to take advantage of Ericsson’s market reach, managed services contracts and market trust to increase its footprint.

“This [is] an aggressive move by Ericsson, illustrating that the carrier wifi market is rapidly growing and that large vendors may not afford to wait until they develop their own wifi product lines – especially in the case of a vendor like Ericsson who has long believed in the strength of its macro cellular product line,” he said.

“Ericsson is among the last vendors to embrace a new technology, including femtocells and wifi, that somewhat compete with traditional macro base stations, but the acquisition of BelAir would make sense in the current market environment.”

He added: “Informa expects more consolidation in the wifi and small cell space, where big vendors may choose to partner or acquire smaller, more agile vendors rather than develop their own product lines.”

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