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Nortel Teams on WiMax

Nortel Networks Ltd. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) today unveiled its plans for the WiMax equipment market, opting to partner with Airspan Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: AIRN) and LG Electronics Inc. (London: LGLD; Korea: 6657.KS) for the sale and development of such kit.

The Canadian incumbent is to team with broadband wireless vendor Airspan for the sale of fixed-wireless products based on the 802.16-2004 standard. According to a statement, “the agreement gives Nortel worldwide rights to resell Airspan’s HiperMAX, MacroMAX and MicroMAX base-station products, as well as EasyST and ProST customer premise [sic] equipment.” (See Nortel Resells Airspan and Airspan Unveils WiMax Portfolio.)

Nortel expects to begin selling Airspan’s fixed-wireless kit in the first quarter of 2006, once WiMax products have been officially certified (see WiMax Waits on Testing). Of course, Nortel and Airspan are no strangers to one another. In November 2003 Nortel sold its fixed-wireless access unit to Airspan for $12.9 million (see Airspan Acquires Nortel Sub).

Nortel’s plans are in keeping with the majority of its rivals, which have either chosen to opt out of development of fixed-wireless WiMax kit or are simply reselling equipment from traditional fixed-wireless players. Alcatel (NYSE: ALA; Paris: CGEP:PA) and Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) have relied on Alvarion Ltd. (Nasdaq: ALVR) for the supply of 802.16-2004 kit; while Ericsson AB (Nasdaq: ERICY) has agreed to a resale partnership with Airspan (See Alvarion & Alcatel Get Fixed Up, Lucent to Resell Alvarion and Ericsson Resells Airspan). Nokia Corp. (NYSE: NOK), Motorola Inc. (NYSE: MOT), and Samsung Corp. have not announced any plans for the fixed-wireless WiMax market.

Meanwhile Nortel has also announced details regarding the future manufacture of mobile WiMax kit based on the 802.16e standard, which is expected to be ratified in the next few weeks (see 802.16e Spec Nears Completion).

“We are working with LG for both WiBro and mobile WiMax kit,” a Nortel spokesman tells Unstrung. Earlier this year both companies announced a joint venture -- dubbed "LG-Nortel Co. Ltd." -- which is focused on the manufacture and sale of wireless and wireline kit (see Nortel Confirms LG Deal).

“Nortel’s WiBro solutions are scheduled for commercial availability following the 2005 field trial deployment in Asia with the LG-Nortel joint venture, with additional mobile WiMax solutions set to be commercially available following the 2006 trials in North America,” adds a statement from Nortel.

Last year Unstrung noted that Nortel has been using its experience in the OFDM (Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing) and MIMO (Multiple Input Multiple Output) technology space to improve WiMax data speeds and spectral efficiency (see Nortel's WiMax Coming Out).

— JSSEE (Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe), Unstrung

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