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Brocade's Ruckus Wi-Fi business finds a buyer

Broadcom will unload the Ruckus Wireless Wi-Fi business for US$800 million when it takes over Brocade Communications Systems later this year.

The buyer, Arris International, is a maker of video and broadband equipment, including cable modems and set-top boxes with Wi-Fi inside. As part of the deal, it will also acquire Brocade’s ICX business, which makes data center, campus and carrier Ethernet switches.

Ruckus makes Wi-Fi gear primarily for enterprises and service providers. Brocade acquired Ruckus last April for $1.2 billion in a bid to expand its enterprise networking business.

Just a few months later, communications chip maker Broadcom announced plans to buy Brocade for its Fibre Channel storage network business. Now Broadcom is arranging to sell off the rest of Brocade.

The deal is expected to close about a month after Broadcom takes over Brocade, which is set to occur by the end of July. Ruckus and the switching business will become a business unit inside Arris, led by current Ruckus Chief Operating Officer Dan Rabinovitsj.

Wi-Fi is a growing part of enterprise networking, replacing wired Ethernet for desk connections in some new offices. Ruckus sells gear both to enterprises and to service providers, including cable companies, that sell Wi-Fi as a service to their business customers, Rabinovitsj said in an interview. The acquisition will help Arris extend its business with cable operators from homes into enterprises, he said.

Ruckus is also an early explorer of private cellular networks. It’s trialing an indoor LTE system called OpenG that will run on 3.5GHz, a shared spectrum band. With an LTE network that’s not tied to a single carrier, it should be easier to provide strong cellular coverage in a building, Rabinovitsj said. Mobile devices will need 3.5GHz radios first, but by 2020, such networks will be common additions to Wi-Fi, he said.

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