French telecommunications equipment maker Alcatel will buy Native Networks, a U.K. metro Ethernet access equipment manufacturer, for US$55 million in cash, the companies announced Wednesday.
The acquisition will strengthen Alcatel's position in the markets for metro Ethernet and so-called "triple-play" (TV, telephony and Internet access) carrier services, the company said.
Alcatel and Native Networks have collaborated on technology development since February 2003, when they began work on an Ethernet packet ring technology. Now available as an add-on to Alcatel optical networks, this can be used to aggregate traffic from services such as DSL (digital subscriber line), telephony, TV and Ethernet VPNs (virtual private networks) over a single optical network.
Packet ring is designed to help SDH (Synchronous Digital Hierarchy) and Sonet (Synchronous Optical Network) backbones transport bursty data protocols such as Ethernet more efficiently through statistical multiplexing of multiple data streams.
Over the last couple of years, Alcatel has acquired a number of companies developing ways to handling IP (Internet Protocol) in carrier networks. These include U.S. VPN router developer TiMetra, acquired for $150 million in stock in May 2003; iMagicTV, a Canadian developer of software for delivering digital TV over DSL, acquired early in 2003 for $30 million in stock, and Spatial Communications Technologies (Spatial Wireless), a Texan supplier of packet-switching software for cellular networks acquired in September 2004 for $250 million in stock.