Alcatel to buy wireless, conferencing companies

French networking gear maker offers US$250 million for Spatial Wireless and US$27 million for eDial.

Networking gear maker Alcatel last Friday announced acquisition plans for a pair of U.S. companies to help it gain access to wireless and collaboration technologies.

The Paris-based company is set to acquire Spatial Wireless, a Richardson, Texas, maker of mobile switching products, in a shares transaction valued at about US$250 million. It also has taken over eDial, a Waltham, Mass., provider of conferencing and collaboration software, for US$27 million in a stock-and-cash deal.

Alcatel said the Spatial acquisition will help it "leapfrog" traditional technology to offer mobile switching products ready for Internet Protocol multimedia subsystems. The Texas company's flagship product, Spatial Atrium, is a multistandard mobile "soft switch"--it works with GSM/EDGE, 3G/UMTS and CDMA networks--designed to control distributed media gateways and to manage various aspects of voice and data services.

Atrium is in commercial use and in market trials with major GSM (Global Systems for Mobile communications) and CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) operators, primarily in North America, China and India, Alcatel said.

The Spatial deal is expected to close by the end of this year. Spatial has 225 employees in its offices in the United States and India.

The acquisition of 30-employee eDial, which closed last Friday, is intended to help Alcatel expand its enterprise software offerings. The Massachusetts company's products include applications based on SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) for voice, data and video conferencing. Other products address real-time collaboration involving instant messaging, application sharing and presence capabilities.

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