Cisco is broadening its efforts to capitalize on the growing demand for Voice over Internet Protocol services by acquiring privately held Sipura Technology.

The deal calls for Cisco to pay some $68 million in cash and options for Sipura.

Nearly 59 million users are expected to use VoIP technology for broadband and Internet calling and services by 2009, according to research group Synergy. There are currently some 8 million users, Cisco said, citing figures from Synergy.

The acquisition is being made by Cisco’s Linksys division. Linksys is focused on wireless and networking gear for homes, home offices and small businesses.

Sipura, which is based in San Jose, CA, is already a provider of technology related to VoIP for Linksys products.

The deal is expected to close in the fourth quarter.

“VoIP is a strategic segment for innovation and growth for Cisco and Linksys. The acquisition of Sipura will augment Linksys’ leading position in the rapidly growing VoIP market and is an example of Linksys’ strategy to increase internal research and development capabilities in specific product categories,” said Charles Giancarlo, Cisco’s chief technology officer and president of the Linksys group. “Adding Sipura’s technology reinforces our commitment to developing products in the consumer voice space.”

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