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03/10/2010 Cisco Quits WiMAX Radio Business

Cisco is exiting the WiMAX base station business to focus on its packet core and IP network business just three years after it got into the market.

"Cisco's mobility strategy has always been to provide a radio-agnostic approach that focuses on the packet core and IP network and services where the company can add differentiated value," said the company in a statement. "After a recent review of its WiMAX business, Cisco announced its decision to discontinue designing and building new WiMAX base stations and modems."

Cisco said that it remains technology-agnostic in "support of all technologies that will accelerate broadband access to as many people as possible." The company will leverage its $2.9 billion acquisition of Starent Networks to support both LTE and WiMAX deployments. Starent Networks' products connect operators' radio access network to their core IP infrastructure.

Cisco got into the WiMAX base station business in 2007 with its $330 million acquisition of WiMAX radio access network equipment maker Navini Networks. The company has not said what it plans to do with its Navini assets, only stating that it will continue to support its legacy WiMAX equipment.

Cisco recently inked a deal to provide mobile WiMAX provider Clearwire with Internet protocol equipment.

Cisco’s decision to exit the WiMAX base station business leaves the field wide open for WiMAX infrastructure vendor Alvarion. However, Alvarion doesn’t see it as being much of a boon to its business. 

“They’re not that big a player on the radio side in the first place, so it doesn’t drastically change what we were doing in the market,” says Ashish Sharma, Alvarion’s vice president of corporate communications. 

Alvarion says it will be business as usual, though Sharma admits that the loss of a competitor will “enhance” some of the contracts it is currently pursuing.  

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