In its push to connect as many gadgets to the Internet as possible, Intel has agreed to buy Lantiq, a German company that makes broadband access and home networking tech.
With the acquisition of the Munich-based maker of networking chips, Intel wants to extend its home gateway business, it said Monday. The acquisition aims to broaden Intel's offering to gateway markets including DSL, fiber and LTE.
Intel is betting big on the so-called Internet of Things (IoT), a push from tech companies to connect as many devices to the Internet as possible. IoT is proving to be a fiercely competitive field, especially for chip companies such as Intel, which are hoping billions of connected devices will need their chips in the coming years.
Intel hopes that the Lantiq takeover will help tip the scales in its favor by combining its cable gateway business with Lantiq's know-how, allowing service providers to introduce new home computing products and enabling consumers to connect more devices in their homes, it said.
IoT has been a focus of investment for Intel for a while now. It would like to see its low-power chips used in sensors and wearables, and launched its own IoT platform last year, combining hardware, software and partnerships to allow its customers to quickly design complete systems.
Part of that platform is the company's IoT gateway, which provides hardware and software building blocks to get data off legacy equipment without replacing existing infrastructure. Gateway reference designs that can be used to collect data from IoT devices and sensors are a key part of Intel's strategy, allowing devices that have never been a part of the network to be connected by translating older proprietary protocols into useable streams of data, it said in December.
Intel already works with partners including SAP, Dell, Accenture, Capgemini and NTT Data for building and deploying IoT systems.
With billions of devices expected to join the Internet over the next few years, the IoT market could become quite lucrative. However, as the tech companies continue churning out devices such as connected fire detectors and Bluetooth snowboard bindings, the worries about consumer privacy are also on the rise.
A top official at the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned during the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last month that tech companies should put more effort into protecting consumer privacy and security. Constantly collecting data from connected devices could undermine consumer trust, which could in turn be bad for business as trust is key to adoption of IoT tech, she said.
Similar concerns were raised last year by Intel's IoT chief Doug Davis, who has called on developers to design IoT devices with privacy and security in mind for the same reason.
Intel expects to close its acquisition of Lantiq in about 90 days, but did not disclose the terms of the deal.
Loek is Amsterdam Correspondent and covers online privacy, intellectual property, online payment issues as well as EU technology policy and regulation for the IDG News Service. Follow him on Twitter at @loekessers or email tips and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
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