Alcatel has bought US conferencing software developer eDial.

With a portfolio including applications for voice, data and video conferencing based on SIP, plus a real-time collaboration system combining instant messaging, application sharing and presence notification, eDial is a good fit for Alcatel's range of communications applications for business, Alcatel said.

The acquisition will allow Alcatel to add to its Omnitouch Unified Communication conferencing application. It paid $27 million in stock and cash for the privately held eDial. The sales, support and development staff of around 30 will remain at eDial's headquarters.

At the same time, Alcatel announced it was also buying Spatial Communications Technologies, a US supplier of packet-switching software for cellular networks, for $250 million in shares. It expects the deal to close by the end of the year, subject to the approval of stockholders and regulators.

Spatial Wireless' software-based multimedia switching system fits into the network architectures of all the major digital wireless systems, and can be easily upgraded to support 3G wireless networks, prolonging the life of products incorporating it, Alcatel said.

Alcatel already has a close relationship with Spatial Wireless, a privately held company: the two signed a co-distribution deal for the North American market in March.

With its bid for Spatial, Alcatel is following a path already trodden in its acquisition of Watercove Networks. Alcatel signed a deal in July 2003 to distribute Watercove's gateway software in its equipment for second-generation mobile data networks, and then bought the company in January.