TE Connectivity’s Laird Acquisition Consolidates IoT Antenna Technologies

By Claire Swedberg

The two companies intend to globally broaden their portfolio of wireless modules and antennas as Internet of Things deployments expand into more market sectors.

TE Connectivity is expanding its wireless technology offerings with its acquisition of  Laird Connectivity's external antenna business. Purchase plans were announced in September, and the sale is expected to close later this month. TE offers a variety of antenna and wireless solutions for Internet of Things (IoT) devices and edge access, the company reports, and its acquisition of Laird Connectivity's antenna business brings new products to that portfolio.

TE says it intends to leverage Laird Connectivity's external antenna engineering and manufacturing capabilities to expand its own presence in IoT market segments. This acquisition only includes Laird's external antenna business, and the employees connected to that part of the company will join TE Connectivity upon the close of the deal. "TE Connectivity is acquiring the external antennas business from Laird Connectivity because of their high-quality product portfolio, engineering capabilities and talented team," says Gordon Barber, TE's director of product management, IoT, RF solutions and channel products.

Gordon Barber

By combining the external antennas with TE's embedded antennas, passive interconnects and sensors, Barber anticipates that the company will be better poised to support its customers' growing IoT technology needs. "As a significant number of new IoT endpoints come online, with expectations for reliable, high-speed connections," he says, "TE is well positioned to engineer the future with our customers."

TE Connectivity offers connectivity and sensor solutions aimed at sustaining harsh environments, and it serves applications in the transportation, industrial, medical technology, energy and data communications sectors, as well as in home settings The company is headquartered in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, with more than 80,000 employees worldwide, including approximately 7,500 engineers.

Laird Connectivity is a global supplier of IoT technologies, including wireless modules, IoT devices and RF antennas, as well as product-development services. The firm was originally part of U.K. electronics firm Laird PLC, which was purchased in 2018 by U.S. private equity company Advent International (see  Laird Connectivity, Memfault Partner on IoT/Bluetooth Debugging Platform).

Laird Connectivity's focus includes high-performance Bluetooth and Wi-Fi modules that are easy to use, according to Bill Steinike, the company's CEO, and its portfolio also includes cellular and LoRa solutions for IoT sensors and gateways. Recent products include the Sterling 70 Dual Band 802.11 ax Module, the Multi-Core BL 5340 BluetoothModule, the BT510 / MG100 IoT integrated BT5 Sensor and Cellular Gateway solutions, and the FlexPIFA Wi-Fi 6E Antenna. Laird Connectivity's remaining business has locations in the United States, the United Kingdom and Taiwan.

Bill Steinike

TE Connectivity supplies its end-to-end connectivity solutions to users, Barber says, ranging from global communications providers to multi-industrial and transportation equipment manufacturers that require rugged, reliable and customized design solutions. As some of these industries overlap with Laird Connectivity's external antenna customer base, he adds, there are customers that both companies currently serve.

Laird Connectivity's external antennas business joins TE Connectivity's Data and Devices business unit, part of the firm's Communications Solutions segment. That business unit engineers numerous standard and customized solutions, such as cables, cable assemblies, power connectors, input-output connectors, board-to-board connectors and RF connectors. It also offers antennas, shielding connectors, internal connectors and sockets. The Data and Devices business unit has approximately 800 engineers serving customers worldwide.

According to Barber, TE's primary focus after the acquisition closes will be to complete the integration of the antennas business and ensure a smooth transition for customers. "We will continue to work through integration and evaluate the best way to leverage the antennas business's engineering capabilities and talent," he states. "Our priority following the close of the acquisition is an efficient and productive integration of the antennas business into TE. We want to quickly grow the business to scale with TE's global operations and logistics capabilities, as well as enhance service and product offerings."

TE intends to work with its existing customers to engineer solutions with a combined portfolio of antennas, passive interconnects and sensors. "I expect this acquisition to benefit customers who need an engineering partner that understands their design challenges and brings the experience, capabilities and reliable products to the design table," Barber says. Existing customers will benefit from the expanded offerings, he predicts, especially as edge access becomes a priority to deliver faster speeds to end users. "In the future, I'd expect our combined engineering capabilities to benefit existing and prospective customers by quickly bringing new innovation and products to market."

Going forward, Steinike says, Laird Connectivity plans to expand its growing IoT product portfolio with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Cellular and LoRa solutions. This will include providing customers with more complete IoT solutions, with more software and development services, for easier-to-scale customer IoT applications.

Such innovations support growing markets and technologies, Barber notes, such as IoT, 5G, edge access and public safety expansion. "Antennas are a vital piece of these innovations," he states, adding that with the acquisition, "TE will be well positioned to serve our customers broadly with a wide variety of solutions to meet their challenging needs for years to come. After all, without antennas there is no wireless."