Wall Street and the analyst community think Cisco’s acquisition of Starent Networks will be $2.9 billion well spent in order to seriously vie for 3G and 4G mobile gateway business from service providers delivering more and more multimedia traffic that needs to move from wireless networks to IP networks via someone’s packet gateway.
The packet gateway is Starent’s niche, and soon will be Cisco’s. Among the many takeaways from this announcement, other telecom equipment vendors must take serious note of Cisco’s focus on mobile. And in case there’s any confusion, that means Juniper, Alcatel-Lucent, Ericsson and Huawei, to name a few.
If all goes well, Starent will become Cisco’s official Mobile Internet Technology Group when the acquisition is completed in the first half of 2010. “Cisco is all about IP, but Cisco doesn’t have that kind of heritage on the mobility side. So this acquisition has a big upside,” said IDC Wireless and Mobile Infrastructure Research Manager Godfrey Chua. “This is the segment in the mobile infrastructure market that is growing faster than the others.”
A niche player but a survivor (through the dot-com and the telecom crashes from early in the decade), Starent already has marquis clients – including Verizon Wireless and Sprint, to name two big ones, and one assumes Cisco will inherit Starent’s client list.
Starent Networks enables wireless operators to deliver multimedia (data, video, wireless TV, games, etc.) on wireless devices. Starent’s technology is positioned to help operators deliver that content over 2.5, 3G and 4G networks. Starent’s role will be to play on Cisco’s video and IP strengths in mobile infrastructure solutions that will extend quality multimedia experiences to mobile subscribers on 3G and 4G networks.
“Starent already has a good client base in terms of service providers, so it gets Cisco into the mobility discussion more and paves the way for more discussions as more carriers look at LTE,” Chua said. “Now it will be natural to include Cisco at the table.”