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Nortel ditches WiMax to focus on 4G

Telecommunications equipment maker says it plans to focus its research and development around wireless connectivity on Long Term Evolution, or LTE, which enjoys broader support.

Marguerite Reardon Former senior reporter
Marguerite Reardon started as a CNET News reporter in 2004, covering cellphone services, broadband, citywide Wi-Fi, the Net neutrality debate and the consolidation of the phone companies.
Marguerite Reardon

Telecommunications equipment maker Nortel Networks is dumping its WiMax business to focus on a more popular 4G wireless technology.

The company said earlier this week that it's focusing its money and development efforts on Long Term Evolution, or LTE. Even though LTE hasn't yet been standardized, it has more support from major carriers around the world than WiMax.

The two largest U.S. operators, AT&T and Verizon Wireless, have already announced they plan to use LTE to build their 4G wireless networks. Vodafone, the largest worldwide wireless operator, also plans to use LTE for its next generation network.

Sprint Nextel is the only major U.S. operator using WiMax. The company earlier this year joined forces with Clearwire and several other companies including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, and Intel, in a $12 billion joint venture to build a nationwide WiMax network.

Sprint, which has already been testing its WiMax network in some places, did not choose Nortel as one of its major vendors to build the new network. This was a major blow for the telecommunications equipment maker, which instead has been forced to focus on carriers in emerging markets. Relative to LTE, this WiMax opportunity is much smaller, which likely contributed to the company's decision to ditch it.

Instead of sinking a lot of research and development into WiMax, Nortel plans to address this market through a relationship with Alvarion.