NewNet vows to drive forward with onetime Motorola WiMax business

WiMax's future lies in fixed wireless broadband and specialized networks, the acquirer says

Motorola's former WiMax business unit set up shop under new owner NewNet Communications Technologies on Tuesday, diving into the next chapter of a technology that has been largely crowded out by LTE.

NewNet agreed to acquire the division for an undisclosed sum last year from Nokia Siemens, which had bought it from Motorola in July 2010 as part of a wider, US$1.2 billion deal. On Tuesday, NewNet announced the WiMax business would form the basis of a new Telecom Infrastructure Business Unit to be led by Scott Morrison, who previously ran the WiMax organization at Motorola and at Nokia Siemens. Owned by investment company Skyview Capital, NewNet has acquired assets from several other networking companies.

WiMax was the first standard, so-called 4G wireless data technology when it was standardized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers in the past decade, first for fixed wireless networks and then for mobile systems. Intel invested heavily in WiMax on the premise that it could proliferate in the same way Wi-Fi did, through open standards. But telecom carriers rallied around LTE (Long-Term Evolution), created as the next generation of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications). LTE has captured the lion's share of 4G commitments by mobile operators around the world, eventually including WiMax's largest proponents, Sprint Nextel and Clearwire.

In a press release Tuesday, NewNet promoted WiMax as a proven technology with relatively low costs and quick deployment. It can still be attractive for specialized uses such as public safety networks and smart utility grids, the company said. Through the new business, NewNet said it now has more than 40 WiMax customers in 27 countries. The company plans to showcase and demonstrate its WiMax products at Mobile World Congress later this month.

Companies deploying WiMax for those specialized types of applications, and for fixed wireless in some communities without wired broadband, can get around the limitations of the technology, Ovum analyst Daryl Schoolar said. Key among those is the dimmer outlook for new client devices for WiMax, which is likely to be outpaced by LTE soon in terms of smartphones and other mobile gear, he said. Where it's not supporting a consumer mobile service, WiMax won't require a hot new phone every few months, Schoolar said.

In its fixed wireless form, which lets customers access the Internet at home over desktop modems or in stationary "nomadic" mode on laptops, WiMax can be an alternative to wired broadband. A recent informal survey of broadband offerings by IDG publications worldwide found WiMax-based broadband services in Nigeria, delivering 2Mbps (bits per second), and in Zambia with 500Kbps.

Still, WiMax vendors face growing competition from companies selling TD-LTE, the time-division variant of LTE, Schoolar said. Like WiMax, TD-LTE uses the same frequencies for upstream and downstream traffic instead of using separate, paired frequencies. Clearwire and other WiMax service providers are now turning to TD-LTE, though in Clearwire's case, it has enough spectrum to also keep WiMax for some time.

Stephen Lawson covers mobile, storage and networking technologies for The IDG News Service. Follow Stephen on Twitter at @sdlawsonmedia. Stephen's e-mail address is stephen_lawson@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Tom Pope

Dynabook Portégé X30L-G

Ultimately this laptop has achieved everything I would hope for in a laptop for work, while fitting that into a form factor and weight that is remarkable.

Tom Sellers

MSI P65

This smart laptop was enjoyable to use and great to work on – creating content was super simple.

Lolita Wang

MSI GT76

It really doesn’t get more “gaming laptop” than this.

Jack Jeffries

MSI GS75

As the Maserati or BMW of laptops, it would fit perfectly in the hands of a professional needing firepower under the hood, sophistication and class on the surface, and gaming prowess (sports mode if you will) in between.

Taylor Carr

MSI PS63

The MSI PS63 is an amazing laptop and I would definitely consider buying one in the future.

Christopher Low

Brother RJ-4230B

This small mobile printer is exactly what I need for invoicing and other jobs such as sending fellow tradesman details or step-by-step instructions that I can easily print off from my phone or the Web.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?