Linksys will buy software company Ashley Laurent for an undisclosed sum, bringing more of the company's gateway software in-house.

Linksys has outsourced much of its software development to companies including Ashley Laurent but now sees a growing opportunity to integrate special features for VoIP and multimedia into gateways, said the general manager of Linksys' Home Networking Business Unit, Malachy Moynihan.

Ashley Laurent develops embedded software covering routing, firewalling, quality of service and virus protection for the increasingly sophisticated modems that bring broadband service into homes. Customers include 3Com, D-Link, Texas Instruments and AMD.

Linksys has not been a big player in the gateway industry, but the company sees the devices being combined with the wireless-equipped routers that have been a mainstay of its business. More sophisticated gateways could help the carriers capitalise on lucrative new services, Moynihan said

As broadband evolves from primarily a Web-browsing tool into a "triple-play" or "quad-play" service that may include TV, telephone, data and mobile services, the box where the carrier's service hits the home network is likely to play a growing role. The Linksys acquisition follows a recent Motorola investment in Ruckus Wireless which makes wireless LAN devices with special features for sending streaming video around a home. Motorola may integrate the technolog into IP-based cable set-top boxes.

One thing Linksys wants to get out of the Ashley Laurent acquisition is greater consistency across different gateway devices. Some carriers provide the boxes themselves, but Linksys wants more consumers to be able to buy gateways that will work smoothly with their carriers' services, Moynihan said. DSL devices have lacked the solid standards used in cable modems, he said.

Linksys will also aim for consistency in the software in its gateways and the other devices it supplies, such as networking adapters for TVs.

However, other vendors that have been using Ashley Laurent software will be left out in the cold. The company will fulfil existing contracts with other vendors, but development on future products for them will end, Moynihan said. In addition to 3Com and D-Link, Ashley Laurent customers include NetGear, Ericsson, Accton and LG Electronics.

Original reporting by Stephen Lawson, IDG News Service