CommScope Adds Airvana to Boost Indoor Wireless Offerings

CommScope, a company that provides telecommunications equipment for wired and wireless networks, has reached an agreement to acquire Airvana to beef up its capabilities supporting indoor wireless coverage.

Hickory, NC-based CommScope (NASDAQ: COMM) says it will finance the acquisition with cash, but disclosed no terms other than to say it aims to close the deal within 60 days. CommScope says that Airvana will keep its Chelmsford, MA, headquarters, as well as its employees and management.

The deal comes as consumer and business demand for wireless data grows, which is making wireless indoor connectivity a standard building feature rather than a perk. Airvana specializes in small cells, nodes that provide wireless coverage inside buildings. Airvana’s technology supports multiple carriers and the company targets business customers, large and small. The company also offers small cells for residential and small office applications.

When Airvana was founded in 2000, the company was in the business of outdoor wireless connectivity. Airvana developed macro cell technologies for wireless towers that in 2004, were adopted by Verizon Wireless and Sprint (NYSE: S). In 2006, Airvana began work on small cell technologies for indoor applications. The company went public in 2007. Two years later, private equity investors formed a group called 72 Mobile Holdings, which acquired Airvana for $530 million. After selling its macro cell business to Ericsson (NASDAQ: ERIC) in 2014, Airvana focused exclusively on small cells. To date, the company says it has shipped more than 1.5 million small cells.

CommScope divides its business into three segments: wireless, enterprise, and broadband. Wireless is the largest of the three, accounting for $2.4 billion of the company’s $3.8 billion in 2014 revenue. CommScope already offers small cell technologies, but in a conference call to discuss second quarter results, CEO Eddie Edwards said that the company does not serve the lower end of the small cell market. He added that the company was “looking at opportunities” to participate in that market. CommScope has been active in telecommunications M&A. Last week, the company completed its $3 billion acquisition of TE Connectivity’s telecom, enterprise, and wireless business, a deal initially announced in January.

When the Airvana deal is complete, the company will become part of CommScope’s wireless division.

Frank Vinluan is editor of Xconomy Raleigh-Durham, based in Research Triangle Park. You can reach him at fvinluan [at] xconomy.com Follow @frankvinluan

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