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Atheros Buys Opulan to Acquire Passive Optical Networking Technology

By Ashok Bindra, TMCnet Contributor

To bring gigabit broadband and robust hybrid connectivity to homes and multi-dwelling units “MDUs,” Atheros (News - Alert) Communications, expanding its networking portfolio and, the high-performance RF, mixed-signal and digital semiconductor designer has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Opulan Technologies Corp., a privately held Chinese fabless semiconductor company specializing in solutions for passive optical networking (PON) and broadband access aggregation (MUX).

Besides expanding its networking portfolio, this acquisition also enhances the company’s R&D capabilities and customer relationships in Asia.According to Atheros, the acquisition has been approved by the board of directors of each company and a majority of Opulan’s shareholders have consented to the transaction. It is expected to close in the third quarter, depending on regulatory requirements and other customary closing conditions. Under the terms of the agreement, Atheros will pay Opulan shareholders approximately $72 million in cash, and may pay additional cash to Opulan shareholders subject to the attainment of earn-out objectives applicable to the acquired business during a 12-month period following the closing date.

Representing the future of broadband access technology, PON is expected to be a significant portion of the growing fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) market, according to Infonetics Research (News - Alert). The study conducted by the research firm shows that the market for PON equipment will more than double between 2009 and 2014. The ramp in PON demand is being driven by the global upgrade of existing broadband infrastructure to support ever-increasing bandwidth needs for video delivery and content sharing from the cloud network into and around the home and MDUs.

Combining its hybrid connectivity solutions comprising Ethernet, Wi-Fi and powerline products with Opulan’s cutting edge access (1G/10G Ethernet PON and MUX) technologies, Atheros will now provide carriers with a unique end-to-end (WAN-to-LAN) architecture that not only delivers gigabit speed next-generation optical broadband access to the home and MDU, said the manufacturer.

“With the pending acquisition of Opulan, Atheros will have the industry’s most complete and unique networking IC portfolio for connecting the entire home or office,” said Craig Barratt, president and chief executive officer of Atheros. “This is another important step in Atheros’ strategy to make it easier for consumers to connect and consume rich media on more and more devices.”In a statement, Opulan’s CEO Zheng Liu, said, “The seamless integration of best-in-class wired and wireless technologies will create the world’s most competitive platform for carriers bringing next-generation broadband to homes and MDUs. ”

Meanwhile, the company crossed a significant milestone by shipping its 500 millionth Wi-Fi chipset.

Ashok Bindra is a veteran writer and editor with more than 25 years of editorial experience covering RF/wireless technologies, semiconductors and power electronics. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Stefania Viscusi