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Cisco pays $475m for Israeli mobile network firm Intucell

Big payday as Chambers seeks mobile cloud control

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Cisco has bought Israeli mobile network traffic management software firm Intucell for $475m in cash as it seeks to expand its footprint on the mobile market.

Intucell's special sauce is its self-optimizing network (SON) software, which dynamically shifts traffic between cell stations to even out the highs and lows of demand and provide a steady service. It's already in use with several mobile operators, with reportedly good results.

"The mobile network of the future must be able to scale intelligently to address growing and often unpredictable traffic patterns, while also enabling carriers to generate incremental revenue streams," said Kelly Ahuja, general manager of the Cisco service provider mobility group, in a statement.

"Through the addition of Intucell's industry-leading SON technology, Cisco's service provider mobility portfolio provides operators with unparalleled network intelligence and the unique ability to not only accommodate exploding network traffic, but to profit from it."

Last November, Cisco CEO John Chambers announced the company will begin building mobile networking equipment, specifically small units capable of managing both Wi-Fi and cellular traffic over a local area. These small units now outnumber larger mobile base stations, and Cisco is keen to expand its current fixed networking market position into the mobile world.

Chambers' goal is to be the backbone of the mobile cloud, mixing cellular and Wi-Fi device base stations to provide blanket, balanced high-speed data coverage. While cellular speeds are increasing, Wi-Fi is still unmatched at wireless data throughput and devices that can dynamically shift between the two signals would see much more reliable connections.

Cisco has got a very long way to go, given it's entering a very established market, but Chambers has his eye set on this and is willing to spend huge wodges of cash to achieve his ambitions. Mobile networks are certainly interested in the technology, but whether they'll play ball with Cisco remains to be seen. ®

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