Motorola and Nokia may be competitors for market share in the high-end smartphone space, but the pair knows when to work together toward a common goal. In a shared statement, the two said they are extending an existing intellectual property licensing agreement to include 4G technologies such as LTE (Long Term Evolution) WiMax and LTE-Advanced.
"We are ... confident this agreement will help foster continued innovation and technological advancement for the telecommunications industry," Kirk Dailey, corporate vice president of intellectual property at Motorola, said in the Oct. 15 statement. "Motorola is committed to leveraging the strength of its industry-leading intellectual property portfolio for the benefit of its customers, partners, shareholders and licensees."
Paul Melin, vice president of intellectual property at Nokia, added that the "agreement also shows that the industry is making fast progress in resolving LTE licensing issues between the major patent holders. LTE has now become a key element of Nokia's licensing program, and we expect strong returns for our pioneering development."
In Las Vegas in September, MetroPCS activated the first LTE network in the United States, and later this quarter Verizon Wireless plans to power up its own LTE-based 4G network nationwide. Currently, the nation's largest 4G network is offered by Sprint-owned Clearwire, which relies on LTE competitor technology WiMax. LTE, however, is expected to become the more dominant technology, and Sprint executives have been open about the possibility of rolling out LTE on top of the Clearwire WiMax network.
For now, the Samsung Epic 4G and the HTC Evo 4G, both offered by Sprint, are the only 4G-enabled smartphones offered by a U.S. carrier. With more 4G networks planned, however-Sprint announced its own branded 4G offering Oct. 18, AT&T plans to offer LTE-based 4G service in early 2011 and T-Mobile will eventually also rely on LTE-Motorola and Nokia are sure to soon be offering consumers more 4G phone choices.
Nokia and Motorola also have in common that each is involved in a lawsuit with Apple. One of the suits Nokia has filed against Apple involves patent violation for GSM, WLAN and UMTS standards. And similarly, 18 patents related to wireless communication technologies are the focus of the suit Motorola filed Oct. 6 against Apple.
"We are pleased to conclude this extension of our IP licensing agreement," Melin said of the deal with Motorola, "which is a great example of the value that Nokia realizes from our industry-leading patent portfolio."