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Cisco to pick up Net calling gear maker

Purchase of Sipura Technology should let Cisco add more VoIP features to Linksys home networking products.

Cisco Systems will buy privately held Sipura Technology, a maker of consumer products for Net phoning, for $68 million in cash.

The networking gear maker said Tuesday it plans to use Sipura's technology to integrate more voice features into products from its Linksys home-networking division. Linksys provides wireless and networking hardware for the home and home office, as well as small businesses. Cisco entered the consumer market in 2003 when it bought Linksys for $500 million.

Voice over Internet Protocol technology allows calls to be made over a broadband connection instead of over a regular phone line. The consumer VoIP market is expected to grow rapidly over the next several years, as independent service providers, cable operators and traditional phone companies start offering services.

Cisco has already built some VoIP capabilities into its telephone adapters and wireless home routers. Most of this technology came from Sipura, the company said.

The San Jose, Calif., networking giant said it plans to use the Sipura acquisition to help develop more VoIP functionality and products for its Linksys home division.

"VoIP is a strategic segment for innovation and growth for Cisco and Linksys," Charles Giancarlo, Cisco's chief technology officer and president of the Linksys unit, said in a statement. "Adding Sipura's technology reinforces our commitment to developing products in the consumer voice space."

The purchase is expected to close by the end of July.