Ericsson is buying Canadian Wi-Fi specialist BelAir Networks as part of a move to develop telecommunications equipment that integrates both Wi-Fi and cellular technologies.

Wi-Fi offload has become an increasingly important tool to move network-clogging data traffic off of an operator's cellular connections onto Wi-Fi hotspots.

"Ericsson will lead the way in the growing converged Wi-Fi and cellular market, where improved end-user experience is the driving force," Ericsson CEO Hans Vestberg said. "By integrating BelAir Networks' market-leading products and competence into Ericsson's existing radio portfolio, we will be able to do this more quickly."

Ericsson came out with an operator-controlled Wi-Fi offload solution in September of last year as part of its heterogeneous network concept, also called hetnet.

Heterogeneous networks refer to networks that use a combination of different cell types and access technologies such as Wi-Fi, 3G and LTE. Multi-faceted hetnet deployments are designed to better cope with surging amounts of mobile data traffic.

The BelAir transaction fits in with Ericsson's hetnet strategy by "managing the coexistence of mobile technologies and Wi-Fi," it said.

The deal is expected to close during the first half of this year. Once complete, Ericsson will hold 100 percent of BelAir's shares, giving it access to its carrier-grade Wi-Fi products, technological expertise, intellectual property rights and customers.

Financial terms of the deal were not announced. BelAir's approximately 120 employees will transfer to Ericsson.

BelAir was established in 2002 and is based in Ottawa, Ontario. Its clients include AT&T and Comcast.