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Unisphere to add calling features via BroadSoft buy

Unisphere Networks, a communications-infrastructure and software maker, agreed to acquire BroadSoft on Friday in a move that will add calling features to the company's offerings.

Unisphere Networks, a communications-infrastructure and software maker, agreed to acquire BroadSoft on Friday in a move that will add calling features to the company's offerings.

Previously, Unisphere's technology only provided the transport and switching functions for voice and Internet networks. The acquisition is intended to add specific calling features, such as conference calling, to Unisphere's gear.

An all-stock deal, the merger is contingent upon the successful completion of Unisphere's pending initial public stock offering (IPO) and the company's ensuing stock valuation.

The Chelmsford, Mass.-based Unisphere will acquire BroadSoft for between 5.7 million and 7.5 million shares, according to regulatory documents. The company plans to offer 8.5 million shares at a range of $20 to $22 and under the "UNSP" ticker symbol in an IPO on the Nasdaq stock market.

Unisphere, which has ties to Siemens, manufactures routers, switches and other Internet-based communications gear. The company also produces "softswitches," software designed to route voice and data traffic.

The addition of BroadSoft's technology is significant, providing Unisphere with the ability to offer many advanced calling features, such as call waiting, voicemail and call forwarding. The privately held BroadSoft also offers conference calling, *69 return dial features and other services.

In order to convince communications carriers to exchange their older circuit switches in favor of Internet-based gear, many industry experts believe the Net equipment, such as that made by Unisphere, must support these advanced services. Call waiting and the rest of the services offer high profit margins for carriers, who will be reluctant to part with them.

"In order for (carriers) to make this transition, they need to have those same features available," said Unisphere chief operating officer Tom Burkardt. "We sold the infrastructure, (BroadSoft) sold the features, and now we'll get to sell them both."

The acquisition has been approved by the board of directors of each company, but is subject to customary requirements, in addition to the IPO, before closing.