Ericsson bolsters HetNet portfolio with BelAir acquisition

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Swedish equipment maker to integrate carrier-grade WiFi with small cell technologies; outlines OSS/BSS, m-commerce ambitions.

Ericsson on Tuesday acquired carrier-grade WiFi specialist BelAir Networks in a bid to strengthen its heterogeneous network ffering. “We’ve always had a WiFi integration capability in our packet core networks, but [BelAir] completes the offering in terms of radio network capability,” said Ericsson’s chief marketing officer Arun Bhikshesvaran, during a press briefing in London.
He noted that Canada-based BelAir has gained some momentum in North America where it has worked with AT&T on WiFi offload services, and with Comcast on providing free wireless Internet access to the cable company’s customers.
“Both are important customers of Ericsson,” Bhikshesvaran commented. “So we will strengthen our relationship with the addition of BelAir to our portfolio.” 
He explained that Ericsson will make use of BelAir’s technology for both its small cell backhaul and WiFi offload solutions.
Rumours that Ericsson planned to buy BelAir Networks surfaced in media reports in late January. Financial details of Tuesday’s transaction were not disclosed, but Bhikshesvaran said he expects the deal to close “during the early part of this year”.
The acquisition of BelAir by Ericsson is another sign that WiFi is becoming an integral element of HetNets – high-capacity mobile networks consisting of macro infrastructure augmented with small cells.
Alcatel-Lucent last week unveiled a new addition to its LightRadio small cell portfolio that incorporates carrier-grade WiFi access.