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Nokia flogs off WiMAX biz

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Nokia Siemens Networks has sold its WiMAX business to NewNet Communications, handing 300 staff and the WiMAX portfolio to the company, which is a division of Skyview Capital.

Both NewNet and Skyview described themselves as excited by the opportunities in WiMAX, and delighted to be taking on the staff, product portfolio and customer base of Nokia Siemens Networks, with the deal expected to be completed by the end of the year. Much of that business originated with Motorola when NSN bought the networking part of that company for a sum just shy of a billion dollars in May, though it promptly scaled back the WiMAX operation as part of the 1,500 layoffs following that acquisition. Neither company is saying how much NewNet is shelling out for the remaining WiMAX bits.

To the mobile network operators, who make up NSN's customer base, WiMAX is a dead technology. Even the early US champion – and NSN customer – Clearwire is migrating towards the widely supported Long Term Evolution (LTE) standard, and aspirations for national WiMAX networks have already faded to the point of illegibility. But despite that WiMAX will live on, both in legacy deployments and in vertical markets, where interoperability isn't the primary consideration... but those aren't the markets where NSN wants to play, so the selloff makes strategic sense.

It also gets rid of 300 staff, mostly in Chicago and Hangzhou, which can only help towards the 17,000 layoffs the company is planning in the hope of turning its ongoing losses into a profit, or at least stemming the tide. That's about a third of its staff, prompting every employee to glance left and right in the hope of seeing someone else who'll get the axe, while waiting to see in which of the 150 countries where NSN currently has operations the axe will fall hardest.

But for 300 staff who'll be working for NewNet come January, the future is clear, for the moment at least. ®

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