With Starent Acquisition, Cisco Focuses More On Wireless

It seems Cisco Systems is turning its sights on the biggest, nastiest network-related problem facing the world’s Internet users: the inability of wireless carriers to handle the burgeoning traffic to smart devices such as the iPhone. That’s the takeaway from the company’s $2.9 acquisition of Starent Networks today. Here’s some details, courtesy of the NY Times.

In the past, Cisco has focused on pretty much everything but the big cellular networks. The company’s bread and butter is selling the gear for corporate network, along with plenty of extra fixins to run on top of them, such as wired VoIP phones, videoconferencing systems (it purchased Tandberg for $3 billion to bolster up in this market) and security software. It sells much of the gear that big phone carriers use in their wireline networks. And there’s consumer gear that’s used inside the home, such as wireless routers and even Flip video recorders (through its acquisition of Pure Digital earlier this year).

But ask most any iPhone user—certainly many in highly-trafficked cities—and they’ll tell tales of woe about miserable network connectivity and non-existent data service (full disclosure: I’m one of them. My iPhone is nearly useless as a data device in downtown San Francisco, and almost every call I try to make on the device from my home in the East Bay is dropped).

Hopefully, Cisco can use Starent’s software and hardware to come up with the gear necessary for carriers to cost-effectively keep up with the torrent of traffic coming their way. If it does, Cisco will surely be well-compensated.

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