Cisco Buys WiMax Startup

Cisco Systems Inc. has agreed to buy Navini Networks Inc., a developer of WiMax broadband wireless access systems.

The US$330 million deal marks Cisco's first foray into the technology: Earlier this month, Cisco dismissed rumors that it planned to buy Navini, saying it had no plans to develop wireless base stations using any technology other than Wi-Fi.

Navini makes mobile WiMax wireless base stations.

Wi-Fi and WiMax are wireless networking technologies defined in standards set by the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Inc. WiMax (802.16) has a range over a hundred times greater than the older and more widely deployed Wi-Fi (802.11) family of standards.

Cisco said it is particularly interested in Navini's expertise with "smart beamforming" technologies used with Multiple-Input, Multiple Output (MIMO) antenna arrays, which in Wi-Fi systems allow base stations to handle much higher data throughput.

Cisco plans to fold Navini into its wireless networking business unit. It expects the acquisition, its 124th, to close by the end of January.

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