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Nokia Rejoins WiMax Forum

Finnish infrastructure giant Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK) is rejoining the WiMax Forum, claiming that the nascent wireless metropolitan area network (MAN) market could play a major role in the company’s future plans.

The dramatic turnaround follows a decision earlier this year not to renew its membership of the industry body. WiMax is the WiMax Forum’s marketing label for the 802.16a wireless MAN standard (see Working for the MAN for more detail on the technology).

Nokia initially cited concerns that WiMax is not a core business focus and is in danger of suffering from technology overhype (see Nokia Chills on WiMax).

The vendor’s communications director, Thomas Jönsson, today confirmed that Nokia is “rejoining” the forum, following a recent evaluation of the market’s potential.

“At the beginning of the year when we looked at it we thought that the early work at the Forum didn’t relate to exactly what we were doing with WiMax,” he tells Unstrung. “It was a lot about fixed wireless, so we didn’t think we had a role to play... But then we came to realize that over time it might become very relevant to us. It was a matter of reworking the decision.”

Jönsson claims the turnaround “was not a big strategic decision” for Nokia. “We are in many forums and we have to spend our time effectively.”

Nokia now joins rival network suppliers Alcatel SA (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Siemens AG (NYSE: SI; Frankfurt: SIE), as well as a glut of niche vendors such as Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR), Wi-LAN Inc. (Toronto: WIN), and Redline Communications Inc., in touting the benefits of WiMax (see WiMax Gets Serious).

Cellular infrastructure behemoth LM Ericsson (Nasdaq: ERICY) has remained unwilling to commit to the market (see Ericsson Cool on WiMax).

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung

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