ARRIS Acquisition of Ruckus Wireless a Sign of Deep Network Convergence

Carl Weinschenk

ARRIS announced yesterday that it is acquiring Brocade Communications Systems’ Ruckus Wireless and ICX switch business for $800 million and other considerations related to Broadcom’s acquisition of Brocade.

An important rationale for the deal, according to the press release, is the expansion of ARRIS’ converged wired and wireless network offerings. The specific goal of ARRIS is to expand its capabilities in that area from the home into the education, public venue, enterprise, hospitality and multi-dwelling unit (MDU) sectors.

Though ARRIS is aiming at specific verticals, the interest in converged wired and wireless networking is a common theme of telecom evolution. At Wi-Fi360, Adlane Fellah traces the convergence to the desire of cellular operators to use Wi-Fi as a way to reduce pressure on their core networks, which was done to save money – unlicensed Wi-Fi is free – and address capacity issues on their networks. The long-term impact was to accelerate the breaking down of network barriers:

As the movement of traffic between the two types of networks became more seamless, thanks to developments in the network core and in the devices, the strategic value of this approach increased and also included other types of operator. In particular, wireline service providers were able to add a wireless element to their offerings in order to create a quad play service.


In short, the walls between different types of networks are gradually coming down. Vendors have taken up the mandate of developing technology that will make such shifts efficient and share costs as deeply as possible.

Casa Systems – like ARRIS, a longtime vendor to cable operators – is also working on collapsing networks. The company said that its Axyom system would be presented CableLabs’ Winter Conference 2017 in early February. Casa Systems describes Axyom as a “software framework [that] leverages fixed infrastructure for mobile services.” The goal is to provide infrastructure that is not tied to wired or wireless networks or, presumably, any type of either:

It is built to deliver optimal performance and flexible deployment of core and edge access functions that free service providers from access dependencies.

Finally, it is noteworthy that the first stop on the 5G train will be fixed wireless. There are lots of very solid reasons for this approach. The bottom line is that 5G will lead to a very high level of shared wired and wireless infrastructure.

The rationale for shared infrastructure is simple: Service providers and carriers increasingly seek to offer both wireless and wired services. Sharing as many infrastructure elements as possible reduces costs and increases efficiencies on multiple levels. The industry is moving quickly in this direction.

Carl Weinschenk covers telecom for IT Business Edge. He writes about wireless technology, disaster recovery/business continuity, cellular services, the Internet of Things, machine-to-machine communications and other emerging technologies and platforms. He also covers net neutrality and related regulatory issues. Weinschenk has written about the phone companies, cable operators and related companies for decades and is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. He can be reached at cweinsch@optonline.net and via twitter at @DailyMusicBrk.


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