Swedish telecom giant Ericsson is expanding its portfolio by buying BelAir Networks, a specialist in multimode small cell wireless systems for mobile and fixed carriers.
Although both companies have not confirmed the news yet, this upcoming move is seen as a sure sign that the cellular industry is getting serious about wi-fi, according to Kevin Fitchard from gigaom.com.
Typically, the established names in the wireless industry prefer to use their own and often expensive cellular technologies to address the needs of the burgeoning mobile data demand.
These vendors, note Fitchard, don't consider using more generic but much cheaper wi-fi tech.
Apparently, Ericsson intends to leverage BelAir's technology to get into metro wi-fi. The company can slot its own cellular radios into BelAir access points to sell operators both wi-fi and cellular upgrades in a single package.
Till date, most U.S. mobile operators prefer to keep customers on their 3G and 4G networks, as it helps them to collect data revenues and maintain control of the network connection.
These operators do not want to incorporate wi-fi directly into their networks but this attitude may change due to vendors like Ericsson.
Attitudes of operators may have to change significantly over the coming months and years as consumers are increasingly using home, office and public wi-fi for smartphone data usage.
Ontario-based BelAir seems to be the ideal partner for Ericsson as it has established itself as an outdoor wi-fi vendor to cable providers and has some experience with wireless operators.
BelAir s boasts high-capacity long-range access points that are used in the outdoor hot zone networks of AT&T, Cablevision and Time Warner Cable.
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