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Fluidmesh-Cisco deal fills gap in Cisco IIoT

The recently announced Fluidmesh-Cisco deal would fill a gap in Cisco's industrial IoT portfolio. It would provide onboard Wi-Fi for high-speed public transportation systems.

Cisco plans to acquire technology partner Fluidmesh Networks. The backhaul systems provider will provide Cisco with a private wireless communication system for public transportation, manufacturing, mining, and the oil and gas industry.

Cisco announced the deal this week and said it expects to complete the transaction by the end of July. The company did not release financial details.

Cisco has used Fluidmesh technology to fill the gaps in its industrial wireless products for years. In 2016, Cisco and Fluidmesh introduced a bundle of technology that provided onboard Wi-Fi in passenger trains and subways. The combined products also supported video surveillance systems.

Fluidmesh has developed an MPLS-based wireless network that can connect vehicles traveling up to 220 mph. Companies also use Fluidmesh communications to operate robots and other industrial equipment remotely. 

Fluidmesh plugs hole in Cisco portfolio

Adding Fluidmesh would give Cisco a well-rounded industrial wireless portfolio, said Rohit Mehra, an analyst at IDC. "It enables Cisco to provide more of a holistic wireless solution."

Organizations use products like Fluidmesh's to improve wireless communications within public transportation, particularly trains and subways. The Wi-Fi systems transit agencies use today mostly provide "sporadic" coverage, Mehra said.

"And it's largely because of the backhaul inefficiencies," he said.

Without Fluidmesh, Cisco's backhaul products lack the scalability and reliability for the mobile use cases addressed in the acquisition, Mehra said. "This will allow Cisco to up its [product] ante."

In general, companies use a wireless backhaul system to move data from devices and equipment to a node in the wired, private network.

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