Motorola Revs Up WiMax Effort To Tackle 4G - InformationWeek

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Motorola Revs Up WiMax Effort To Tackle 4G

WiMax is shaping up as Motorola's lead dog into the world of 4G mobile wireless communications, even as cell phone service providers struggle to implement 3G networks.

Nearly hidden in the blizzard of Motorola products announced this week has been evidence of the firm's growing commitment to WiMAX. The wireless standard is shaping up as Motorola's lead dog into the world of 4G mobile wireless communications, even as cell phone service providers struggle to implement 3G networks.

The firm is stepping up its R&D efforts, signing technology deals right and left with companies with expertise that will help pave the way to the next cell-phone generation, and even has been acquiring companies that have needed mobile wireless technology that Motorola doesn't have.

For a hint of where Motorola is headed with WiMAX, company spokeswoman Kathi Haas points to the company's recently-inked deal with Sprint, which is racing headlong into 4G. Sprint earlier had signed agreements with Intel, the first major WiMAX pioneer, to cooperate in the production of chipsets, devices, equipment and infrastructure.

Sprint is already rolling out CDMA2000 and EV-DO networks, although the firm is still behind Verizon Wireless, which has a head start in the technology.

Motorola said this week that it plans to build on its existing wireless broadband efforts to further its WiMAX drive. "Motorola has aligned our Networks business to support a companywide initiative to develop WiMAX and other mobile broadband wireless solutions that provide an effective means for carriers to give their customers broadband services," said Motorola's Dan Coombes in a statement.

Coombes, who is senior vice president, general manager of Wireless Broadband Networks and chief technology officer for Motorola Networks, is spearheading the WiMAX drive, which has been targeted for big things by Motorola's new CEO Ed Zander.

The WiMAX 4G vision calls for IP-enabled handsets and IP networking, ideally at very high Orthogonal Frequency Division Multiplexing (OFDM) speeds. Motorola plans to offer fixed, nomadic, and mobile solutions, much of it based on its Canopy platform of wireless products.

Also this week, Motorola landed its biggest Canopy contract, with the Philippines' SMART Communications mobile phone service provider. The contract also underscores Motorola's strategy of initially aiming its WiMAX offerings at rural and remote regions that are difficult to cover with fiber or wirelines.

"We believe that wireless broadband is the most affordable way for the people in the Philippines to be able to receive reliable, high-speed Internet connectivity," said Rene Dos Remedios, a SMART executive, in a statement. "The Canopy platform allows us to deliver broadband and data services at price points Filipinos can afford with the ability to easily scale our networks."

Motorola noted that its Wi4 WiMAX product portfolio includes a "light infrastructure" solution for rural regions as well as a carrier class solution. Sprint, of course, is the poster boy for Motorola's Carrier Access Point (CAP) architecture.

Motorola also announced deals with Cisco Systems and Yahoo! Tuesday to partner on wireless solutions. Last month Motorola agreed to acquire key assets of British handset maker Sendo Ltd. Sendo pioneered the field of low-cost cell phone handsets and has several valuable patents in the handset field.

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