Juniper moves into wireless with £96m Trapeze buy

The company's purchase of the wireless infrastructure firm suggests a move into enterprise unified communications, according to an Ovum analyst

Networking infrastructure company Juniper Networks is to buy Trapeze Networks, the wireless infrastructure firm.

The deal, announced on Tuesday, is an all-cash transaction valued at $152m (£96m). Cable supplier Belden bought Trapeze in 2008 for $133m.

With the acquisition, Juniper will move strongly into the enterprise wireless LAN (WLAN) market, Juniper said in a statement.

Trapeze's technology is "highly complementary to Juniper's campus and branch switching, routing and security business", the company said. Trapeze also has 17 patents, which Juniper said is more than any other WLAN provider, with another 49 patent filings pending.

Luis Avila-Marco, Juniper's head of strategy and corporate development, told ZDNet UK on Tuesday that the purchase was about "the people, the intellectual property, the products and the ability to provide services".

"Trapeze has deep expertise, a very strong portfolio of patents and intellectual property, and great strength of product line," Avila-Marco said, while also talking up the acquired company's customer service reputation. There is "zero overlap" between Juniper and Trapeze's product lines, he added.

Avila-Marco said Trapeze's products would be integrated into Juniper's Ethernet Switching Products Group and sold under the Juniper brand. He said specific model numbers are yet to be announced, but Juniper has "plans to transition the products to the Juniper brand as quickly as feasible" once the deal has achieved regulatory approval. He expects this approval to be given before the end of the year.

According to Avila-Marco, talks had been going on between Juniper and Belden "for a number of months".

"We were already happy customers [of Trapeze]," he said. "It was just lately that we decided that perhaps a combination was the right way to continue in the marketplace. The integration of wireless and wireline technology is going to be a great differentiation and is really going to bring benefit to the end customer."

The Trapeze takeover will help Juniper move into the enterprise unified communications market, Ovum analyst John Mazur told ZDNet UK on Wednesday.

Mazur said that he thought the takeover — which he described as "a pretty small purchase" in financial terms — was "an enterprise fixed-mobile convergence play".

"It became apparent to Juniper that BlackBerrys and iPhones don't have Ethernet connections," Mazur said. "When an employee's on site, these devices are becoming more and more essential to unified communications. You can just use your BlackBerry as your office phone.

"For Belden, who basically make wired products, I could see this as something [it] didn't know what to do with. Juniper saw [it] as being in a better position to leverage this because [it hasn't] been big on unified communications up until this point," Mazur said. "Cisco and Avaya have office phones and Juniper hasn't."

Juniper has been moving into the smartphone support market over recent months: in October it launched smartphone protection software, and it bought mobile security firm SMobile Systems in July.