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Nokia works with Korean vendors on Wi-Bro and WiMAX

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Analysis Samsung may be looking to Wi-Bro, its pre-802.16e technology, to provide it with the means to gain global presence in networking infrastructure, but it knows no wireless system will really hit the mainstream without some support from Nokia, with its huge sway over the handset market.

Nokia has formed a cooperation project with ETRI (the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute) of Korea – with Samsung and LG the creators of Wi-Bro, on which 802.16e is based.

The Finnish giant will work with ETRI members on Wi-Bro, WiMAX, image processing, and open source software. It will gain valuable insights into the advanced Korean market and in return provide endorsement of the technology with probable handset design programs.

On a broader scale, any move to integrate the Asian and US dominated agendas of Samsung and Intel will be beneficial to keeping the WiMAX community and platform unified and international.

As with its existing 4G partnership with Samsung, under which the handset rivals exchange and pool R&D and seek to accelerate the creation of next generation systems, Nokia will look to jumpstart the roll-out of a new platform that could generate new handset revenues for all parties, and in which it believes it will have a headstart through its efficient supply chains, high R&D activities, and joint WiMAX handset initiative with Intel.

Nokia has been ambivalent towards WiMAX in general.

A founder member of the forum, it then lost interest when the focus switched from cellular backhaul to mobile access, potentially limiting growth in W-CDMA, where Nokia Networks is strong. However, the Finnish company has been looking to diversify its device revenue streams, introducing more products that are not tied into cellular networks, including its popular IP tablet, which has no cellular radio.

It will not launch a WiMAX device until it sees significant operator build-out, or a high level of demand in its key target growth market, the enterprise, but it is ploughing significant funds and expertise into 802.16 on the basis that it could become an important network – and Samsung’s early success with Wi-Bro in Korea, Latin America and elsewhere could help that day come earlier than Nokia had originally expected.

Copyright © 2006, Wireless Watch

Wireless Watch is published by Rethink Research, a London-based IT publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter delivers in-depth analysis and market research of mobile and wireless for business. Subscription details are here.

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