It was a busy day for Motorola at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona Feb. 11, with a raft of WiMax announcements and rumors swirling that Motorola and Nortel are considering combining their wireless infrastructures.
In what Motorola calls a “significant milestone” for the still struggling WiMax take-up rate, the company said it plans to license its mobile WiMax chip set radio reference design to third parties, in addition to offering IP licenses for the company’s WiMax patents.
The Motorola WiMax WTM1000 chip set-based terminal modem is set to debut this year as part of its lineup of WiMax products for carriers, including Sprint’s Xohm. Based on the IEEE 802.16 standard, WiMax allows wireless carriers to deliver faster data over longer ranges than Wi-Fi.
The technology is considered especially ideal for cracking the near lock wireline carriers have on last-mile connectivity.
“Motorola is strongly committed to delivering … WiMAX solutions for the next generation of mobile wireless broadband,” Gary Koerper, vice president of platform planning and systems architecture at Motorola, said in a statement. “By licensing our WTM1000 chip set modem solution and essential IP to partners, we hope to foster the development of great new mobile WiMAX devices and applications across the industry.”
Partnering with Motorola on the initiative is Enfora, Motorola’s first WiMAX reference design licensee. Enfora said it plans to integrate the Motorola WTM1000 solution into its modules and integrated platforms that are part of its suite of eWiDE wireless networking solutions.
Sprint, which plans to incorporate WiMax technology into its advanced wireless communications, was quick to praise Motorola’s announcements.
“As a leading provider of WiMax services, Sprint is highly supportive of efforts that help extend WiMax technology throughout the industry,” Bin Shen, Sprint’s vice president of broadband, said in a statement. “We view Motorola’s licensing initiative as a significant step forward in broadening the market opportunity and ensuring [that] a wide array of WiMax-enabled devices are available for consumers when our Xohm service goes live later this year.”
Motorola also released its Wi-Fi enabled MOTO Z6 and added two more handsets to its W series of cell phones.
Rumors swirl over Motorola and Nortel
While Motorola talked WiMax, the Wall Street Journal reported Feb. 11 Motorola and Nortel Networks were considering combining Motorola’s Home and Networks Mobility Division with Nortel’s wireless infrastructure division. Nortel would run the new unit, according to the newspaper. The combined units generated approximately $10 billion in sales last year.
Featuring television set-top boxes and modems, Motorola’s home and networking unit increased sales by 11 percent to $2.7 billion. Earnings, though, fell 14 percent to $192 million.
The deal, according to the Journal, would not include Motorola’s handset unit, which accounts for about half of Motorola’s revenue. The unit has taken a beating over the last year as Motorola fell to number three in worldwide sales, falling behind market leader Nokia and Samsung.
Neither Motorola nor Nortel returned telephone calls from eWEEK seeking comment.
The poor sales of handsets prompted billionaire investor Carl Icahn, who controls about 5 percent of Motorola’s shares, to threaten to lead a board takeover and dump the struggling cell phone unit.
Motorola reported it shipped 40.9 million handset units in the fourth quarter, a dramatic drop from the 65.7 million units shipped a year ago. Motorola’s Mobile Devices segment sales were $4.8 billion, down 38 percent compared with the year-ago quarter.
The operating loss was $388 million, compared with operating earnings of $341 million in the year-ago quarter. For 2007, sales were $19 billion, a 33 percent decrease compared to 2006. The Mobile Devices unit also incurred an operating loss of $1.2 billion, compared to operating earnings of $2.7 billion in 2006.
Overall for 2007, Motorola suffered a net loss of $49 million, or 2 cents per share. A year ago Motorola posted a profit of $3.67 billion. Revenue declined 15 percent to $36.6 billion from $42.8 billion.