Ericsson acquires Wi-Fi specialist BelAir Networks

The demand for Wi-Fi technology in mobile networks will continue to grow over the coming years

Ericsson has entered into an agreement to buy privately held Canadian Wi-Fi company BelAir Networks, as operators get increasingly interested in using Wi-Fi to offload their networks.

The acquisition will give Ericsson a carrier grade Wi-Fi portfolio, technological expertise, IPR, and established customer contracts and relationships, it said Tuesday. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

The demand for Wi-Fi technology in mobile networks will continue to grow over the coming years, and the deal will help accelerate the integration of Wi-Fi and cellular technologies, according to Ericsson.

Ericsson's acquisition of BelAir doesn't come as a surprise, as it has been rumored, and is a good move for the Swedish vendor, according to Richard Webb, directing analyst at Infonetics.

All the radio base station vendors need a Wi-Fi offering, because operators are asking for it, he said.

Wi-Fi is already used by many operators, but a new specification called Hotspot 2.0 -- which is being developed by the Wi-Fi Alliance -- aims to take the use of technology to the next level. Users will be able to authenticate using the SIM card on their smartphones and move between mobile networks and Wi-Fi hotspots without interruptions.

Last week, Alcatel-Lucent announced it is integrating Wi-Fi and mobile networks using its new lightRadio architecture.

The acquisition is expected to close during the first half of 2012, according to Ericsson

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