Cisco quits WiMax radio business

The company will stop making base stations to concentrate on back-end IP infrastructure

Cisco Systems will stop developing and making WiMax base stations to concentrate on the IP (Internet Protocol) networks that sit behind them.

Cisco acquired Navini Networks, which made WiMax RAN (radio access network) equipment, in 2007. The dominant IP networking company said at the time that it saw a powerful opportunity to bring broadband Internet access to developing countries through WiMax.

However, despite hitting the market first, WiMax has taken a back seat to LTE (Long-Term Evolution) as a 4G (fourth-generation) mobile technology. LTE is backed by the industry body behind GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) and is on the road maps of most major carriers that have chosen a 4G system. In the U.S., Verizon Wireless plans to launch LTE commercially this year and AT&T will follow next year.

Cisco can serve both markets with products it acquired through its purchase last year of Starent Networks, which made gateways between radio networks and a carrier's core IP infrastructure. Both WiMax and LTE are based on IP packet networks. In order to concentrate on this business, the company will get out of making the actual radios that deliver WiMax signals to subscribers' devices.

"Cisco's mobile strategy has always been to provide a radio-agnostic approach that focuses on the packet core and IP network, where the company can add differentiated value. After a recent review of our WiMax business, we announced a decision to discontinue designing and building new WiMax base stations and modems, and we also announced a support plan for transitioning existing customers," Cisco spokesman Jim Brady said Friday.

The Navini products haven't played a big role in high-profile WiMax networks. Cisco is a supplier to the world's largest WiMax network project, Clearwire's national U.S. buildout, but only with IP equipment, not radios.

Analysts called the Starent acquisition a move away from WiMax toward the larger LTE market. Unlike WiMax, which had its roots in the wireless LAN world, with strong backing by Intel, LTE is dominated by the giants of cellular equipment, such as Ericsson and Alcatel-Lucent. Cisco has said it does not intend to compete with those types of vendors.

Analysts were not surprised by Cisco's announcement.

"Cisco pulling out at this moment looks like good business," said analyst Laurence Swasey of Visant Strategies. He believes LTE will dominate the 4G world and may even be adopted by current WiMax carriers eventually.

Cisco did the WiMax industry a big favor by buying Navini, Swasey said. "It was a stamp of approval at a time when the market was very fragmented as to what 3.5G and 4G would be to the masses," he said. Today, several major vendors, including Huawei, Samsung and Motorola, are supplying RAN equipment for commercial networks. Cisco's decision to get out of the business will have far less impact than its choosing to get in, Swasey said.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ciscoWiMaxlteNavini

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?