Cisco has announced it will buy the online conference provider WebEx Communications for $3.2 billion, to sell collaboration tools to small and medium businesses.

Cisco will use WebEx's technology services to build a stronger combination of communications and collaboration platforms for business customers, said Cisco chief development officer Charles Giancarlo.

WebEx markets its technology as a subscription-based service that lets companies hold real-time or asynchronous data conferences over the Internet, and share Web-based documents and workspaces, using its WebOffice hosted applications suite .

The boards of directors at both companies have approved the deal, so the merger now has to clear antitrust regulations in the US and abroad. Cisco said it expects the deal to close by the end of the fourth quarter.