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Siemens buys wireless switch start-up

Siemens will use the technology to provide seamless roaming between Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

German telephone equipment maker Siemens on Thursday announced it bought wireless switch start-up Chantry Networks.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but some reports indicated that Siemens paid as much as $85 million for the 80-employee company, according to Unstrung, a wireless-news Web site.

Chantry makes local area network (LAN) switches that manage wireless access points, which deliver Wi-Fi service to corporate networks. The company has raised $26 million in venture capital funding since 2002. Siemens Venture Capital contributed $6 million to the company back in October.

The Chantry technology will become a part of Siemens' new communications division, which merges technology from the wireless and wireline sides of the company's business. Siemens plans to use the Chantry products to help provide voice over Wi-Fi to enterprise customers. Eventually, Siemens plans to use the Chantry technology to enable users to roam between corporate Wi-Fi networks and cellular phone networks.

"When you add voice to Wi-Fi, you have to deal with issues like quality of service, security and seamless roaming between access points," said Mark Straton, vice president of marketing for Siemens Communications. "Chantry centrally manages the Wi-Fi access points from its switch, which really helps with all these issues."

Chantry isn't the only company offering wireless LAN switches. Start-ups Airespace, Aruba Wireless Networks and Trapeze Networks offer similar products. Cisco Systems and Symbol Technologies also offer competing technology. Airespace has partnerships with Alcatel, IBM, NEC and Nortel Networks. Aruba has a reseller deal with Hewlett-Packard, and Trapeze is partnering with 3Com.