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March 22, 2005

Alcatel replaces Airespace WiFi kit with Aruba

Wireless LAN equipment vendor Aruba Wireless Networks has cut a deal whereby Alcatel will OEM all its portfolio, cross-license technologies and do joint development, replacing the relationship the French telecoms manufacturer had with Airespace before it was acquired by Cisco Systems.

By CBR Staff Writer

David Callisch, communications director at Sunnyvale, California-based Aruba, said Alcatel approached his company even before Cisco acquired Airespace, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they were getting squeezed out of the channel, because Airespace also had an OEM deal with Nortel, but had closer relations with them. Secondly, Alcatel was keen to move beyond merely providing RF management and wireless access.

He added that Nortel, which was also left high and dry by Cisco’s January acquisition of Airespace, also sought out Aruba, but they came with egregious terms for a pure OEM deal, and we were hungry, but not desperate.

The Alcatel deal, by contrast, will see the two companies cross-licensing, with the French telecoms manufacturer taking Aruba’s mobility and security know-how, while the US WLAN developer will take Alcatel’s voice expertise. In addition, they will work together on developing voice-over-WLAN technology.

Which leaves the question of where Nortel will go now for WLAN equipment to OEM. The third WLAN switch vendor, Trapeze, would seem an obvious choice, and market sources suggest conversations are already underway regarding terms.

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