Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Stockholm — Ericsson is deepening its co-operation with Cisco Systems, adding Wi-Fi products that could help Sweden’s struggling maker of mobile networks land new customers.

Cisco, the largest maker of internet network equipment such as routers and switches, and Ericsson are adding Wi-Fi to a products pact announced 14 months ago. The alliance allows both companies to sell more complete network systems to carriers and to go after new customers such as arenas and large shopping centres, which need more robust networks to handle large crowds with mobile devices.

"By adding Wi-Fi solutions into the partnership, we will enable our customers to offer best-in-class Wi-Fi in their networks," Ericsson’s head of North America, Rima Qureshi, said.

The expanding Cisco venture provides Ericsson with crucial support as it struggles through an industry slump and competition with Nokia and Huawei Technologies. Rather than merge with an internet equipment maker — as Nokia did with Alcatel-Lucent in 2016 — Ericsson has deepened ties with Cisco.

Each company has targeted $1bn or more of new revenue from their venture by the end of 2018. Ericsson had previously said it would extend cooperation with Cisco to include data centre switching and security.

As wireless carriers slow spending after the roll-out of fourth-generation equipment, their suppliers have looked for other ways to lift sales and prepare for a wave of connected devices that will require more integrated networks. With Alcatel-Lucent, Finland’s Nokia added internet protocol-based networks. China’s Huawei has a broader product portfolio, gained through its own research and development.

Stadiums

Ericsson is betting the partnership will help it to offer better products than its rivals in a changing network environment, and to sell to customers other than its traditional telecom operator clients. Combining Ericsson’s networks with Cisco’s wireless local area network systems could offer better connectivity at stadiums, for example, where thousands
of people access internet services simultaneously.

Cisco and Ericsson had completed more than 60 joint deals since founding their partnership, Ericsson said.

Those orders will ease the arrival of incoming Ericsson CEO Borje Ekholm, who takes the helm in January after spending a decade on the board. Ekholm has the task of reviving the company’s fortunes after a year in which it ousted one CEO amid struggles to cope with lower demand for traditional mobile networks.

Bloomberg

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