navini.jpgCisco, the large networking company, said it has agreed to acquire Navini Networks, a company that offers a WiMAX “upgrade” for mobile customers, for $330 million in cash and stock.

This shows that Cisco is getting serious about WiMax, a technology long in development but which is now being deployed in earnest. It differs from WiFi in that it has much longer ranges — as much as 10 miles vs. WiFi’s reach of a few hundred feet.

Navini enables mobile PC users to more easily access WiMax networks. The Richardson, Texas company provides a CPE and PCMCIA cards that allow WiMax access without an install, and powers them with “smart beamforming,” giving carriers more flexibility and lowering their costs.

Cisco said the acquisition would help extend Cisco’s WiFi offerings to include the more powerful broadband WiMax technology, over any device over any networks.

Navini’s offerings include base stations, adaptive antenna arrays, management systems, and subscriber modems, and has been sold to more than 75 customers in several countries.

A warning signal for Navini came in May, when one of its venture backers, Sequoia Capital, did not participate in the company’s sixth round of financing. Seequoia looks for big wins, and its lack of support may have signaled that the company didn’t have what it would take to be a stand alone company — though we don’t know for sure. Navini, founded seven years ago, had raised $195 million from Arcapita Ventures, Austin Ventures, Alcatel Ventures, Cross Atlantic Capital Partners, Granite Ventures, Intel Capital, Sequoia Capital and Sternhill Partners.

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