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Cisco Jump-Starts Mobile WiMax With $330 Million Buy Of Navini Networks

Navini's Ripwave MX product line includes modems, base stations, antenna arrays, and element management systems that operate across a wide range of spectrums.

With Mobile WiMax poised to enter a phase of major deployment, Cisco Systems announced Tuesday that it will purchase WiMax pacesetter Navini Networks for about $330 million in cash.

Cisco said it expects to transfer Navini's employees and assets into its Wireless Networking Business Unit. Cisco's WNBU operation is part of itss Ethernet and Wireless Technology Group.

Navini has been supplying mobile WiMax networks both globally and in the United States for several months. Earlier this month, a spokesperson for Navini said orders for its IEEE 802.16e-based products had just begun to take off. The company supplies the underlying technology to the 70,000-subscriber "Unwired Australia" deployment, its largest customer.

The acquisition had been rumored for weeks, with Cisco cited as the acquirer. The acquisition is Cisco's 124th since its incorporation.

A Cisco spokesman said the company expects Navini's facilities in Richardson, Texas, will be moved to facilities Cisco already operates in Richardson. He noted that Cisco has had some working business relationships with Navini in the past.

Navini's new home in Cisco's WNBU also contains Cisco's Wi-Fi operation, led by its Linksys Wi-Fi product family. "We see Wi-Fi and WiMax as highly complementary," said the spokesman. "WiMax fills out our portfolio."

Cisco said Navini's WiMax "products will extend Cisco's market-leading Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi mesh portfolios."

Navini's Ripwave MX product line includes modems, base stations, antenna arrays, and element management systems that operate across a wide range of spectrums. Although mobile WiMax still lacks many levels of standardization and approval from the WiMax Forum, the technology's certification authority, Navini tailored its products to be "over-the-air software upgradable." Navini has said its customers can install WiMax now and upgrade easily in the future.

The company also utilizes its "Smart Beamforming" technology and its MIMO antennas, which it claims boosts performance and lowers deployment costs.

Cisco said Navini's products will help extend its IP Next Generation Network offerings, which the communications equipment supplier calls "The Connected Life." Cisco added that it expects Navini products will play a key part in advancing its business in emerging countries, through its Cisco Country Transformation and Digital Inclusion programs that promote broadband.

Recently, Liberty Technologies in Panama and Scarlet network in Curacao have begun service using Navini products.

"Emerging country service providers are in expansion mode, building out broadband wireless networks and are concerned about deployment costs and the availability of skilled resources," said Brett Galloway, VP and general manager of Cisco's WNBU, in a statement. "Around the world broadband wireless networks based upon WiMax have the potential to add missions of new internet users who cannot be reached economically using copper or fiber infrastructures."

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