Ubiquisys Acqusition Strengthens Cisco Small Cell Offering


Swindon-based Ubiquisys is to be bought in £205m deal

Cisco has announced plans to strengthen its mobile networking portfolio with the acquisition of British small cell technology provider Ubiquisys in a $310 million (£205m) deal.

The networking giant said Swindon-based Ubiquisys’ 3G and LTE small cell technologies will allow it to offer a “comprehensive” solution to mobile service providers and complements its recent takeovers of Broadhop and Intucell.

Ubiquisys employees will be integrated into the Cisco Service Provider Mobility Group after the deal, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is concluded in the fourth quarter of 2013.

Cisco small cell solution

CiscoSmall cells are essentially small mobile phone towers or base stations, and are typically installed in retail locations or on street furniture as a way to increase the capacity of the mobile phone network in that particular location.

It differs from Wi-Fi networks as it is able to deliver “more robust” connectivity and the traffic is handled using 3G mobile radio technology, so phones don’t have to switch to Wi-Fi.

Cisco says that offloading traffic to these short-range small cells is a cost-effective way for mobile service providers to increase capacity and make better use of their spectrum.

“By acquiring Ubiquisys, we are expanding on our current mobility leadership and our end-to-end product portfolio, which includes integrated, licensed and unlicensed small cell solutions that are tightly coupled with SON, backhaul, and the mobile packet core,” said Kelly Ahuja, senior vice president and general manager, Cisco Mobility Business Group.

“For service providers, Ubiquisys supports cost effective coverage and capacity that delivers a differentiated customer experience.”

Stronger offering

Analysts say that although Cisco is no stranger to small cell technology, its experience has been limited to carrier Wi-Fi rather than with licensed spectrum. By contrast, Ubiquisys counts more than 50 vendors and operators as customers, including Softbank in Japan and SFR in France, greatly strengthening Cisco’s small cell position.

“The acquisition doesn’t just provide Cisco with Ubiquisys’ small cell knowhow; it also gives Cisco experience in working with a broader set of mobile operators,” said Daryl Schoolar, principal analyst at Ovum.

“Ubiquisys provides Cisco much greater market credibility when it comes to 3G and LTE small cells. Cisco will also benefit by having greater control over Ubiquisys’ product development cycle, freeing Cisco from having to rely on the development cycle of third-party partners like IP access.

“Small cell vendors should take Cisco very serious. Not only is Cisco greatly improving what it can offer mobile operators in terms of a licensed small cell, Cisco can also offer those mobile operators other tools, like data analytics, SON [self-optimising network], and evolved packet core needed to build a mobile network. This isn’t something all of Cisco’s competitors can claim.”

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