Nortel says Alvarion deal proves Wimax commitment

Nortel denies it's abandoning Wimax altogether, and points to its deal with Alvarion as proof.

Nortel caused a stir when it announced last week its intentions to shift its 4G R&D focus into LTE, while restructuring its Wimax business to center around a new partnership with Alvarion.

It is a coup for Israeli-based Alvarion, making it the supplier of the radio access portion of the mobile Wimax ecosystem.

Anthony McLachlan, general manager for carrier networks, Nortel Asia, says the new business structure isn't a move to hand off its Wimax development to Alvarion, but simply 'a smarter way to go to market' with Wimax.

'We're not just going to be reselling an Alvarion base station, McLachlan said. 'We'll have a Nortel base station, and we'll be working with Alvarion to develop a new base station, and we'll bring in our IP core and application delivery on the back of that.'

That said, the deal is widely seen as acknowledgement by Nortel that it has been unable to follow through with its initial plans to become a 4G powerhouse via LTE, Wimax and UMB.

Ovum analyst Julien Grivolas said that reallocating its resources to focus on LTE was 'crucial'.

'Given that Nortel exited the UMTS/HSPA market, which is the "˜natural' LTE market opportunity, the vendor can't afford to miss early opportunities on the CDMA side,' Grivolas said in a research note.

It's a good deal for vendor Alvarion too, Grivolas added, as it marks the company's first significant OEM deal for its 802.16e tech expertise.

The first Alvarion/Nortel mobile Wimax BTS will be out 'in the second half of 2008', McLachlan said.