Motorola Rolls Out New WiMax Gear

The company's WAP 450 base station features smaller size and a more powerful tower-top module. 

With or without its mobile phone division, Motorola marches on with its WiMax rollout, introducing a new version of its 802.16e WAP 450 base station that features a smaller common equipment cabinet and a more powerful tower-top RF module to improve coverage and capacity.

According to Motorola, the WAP 450, announced April 8, delivers up to 10 watts of power output per sector at the antenna port that is the equivalent to 20 watts or more in a traditional ground base since a base station typically loses as much as half its power in RF cables. The WAP 450 uses thin fiber connections that eliminate heavy coaxial cables.

The WAP 450 is scheduled to be available in the fourth quarter of this year in the 2.3GHz and 2.5GHz bands and the first quarter of 2009 in the 3.5GHz frequency band.

"The WAP 450 also provides performance and cost advantages to operators so they can reduce capital and operating expenditures while extending coverage and enabling more data-rich and bandwidth-intensive applications," Adolfo Masini, vice president of Motorola's Home and Networks Mobility division, said in a statement.

Motorola currently has 19 WiMax 802.16e contracts in 18 countries for deployment of various WiMax solutions.

As Motorola touts its advances in WiMax, controversy continues to swirl around the future of the company's faltering mobile phone division. Motorola, the nation's third-largest cell phone maker, announced in January another sharp decline in mobile handset sales, resulting in an 84 percent drop in fourth-quarter net income.

The company said it shipped 40.9 million handset units in the fourth quarter, a dramatic drop from the 65.7 million units shipped a year ago.

As the company's mobile phone sales sank, billionaire investor Carl Icahn began publicly advocating selling the unit. In 2007, Icahn failed in his attempt to gain a seat on the Motorola board to press his point. Icahn then promised a proxy fight for control of Motorola.

Motorola avoided a potentially embarrassing showdown with Icahn April 7, agreeing to seat two of his associates on the company's board and to seek input from Icahn about the future of Motorola's mobile phone division. The agreement also dismisses all litigation between Icahn and Motorola.

The bad news on Motorola's continuing handset sales slump overshadows better news from the company's other two major divisions, the home and networking segment and the enterprise mobility unit.

Featuring television set-top boxes and modems, the home and networking unit increased sales by 11 percent to $2.7 billion. Operating earnings, though, fell 14 percent to $192 million.

The enterprise mobility solutions division saw a 40 percent increase in operating earnings of $451 million on sales of $2.1 billion, largely on the strength of acquiring Symbol Technologies in 2007.