WiMax, the long-hyped wireless broadband technology, is losing a backer: Nortel (NT) will cut its investment in WiMax to focus on a nascent, rival technology called LTE, which has won the support of the two largest U.S. wireless operators — AT&T (T) and Verizon Wireless — and big European carriers. (Nortel will funnel its remaining WiMax business through a partnership with Israeli gearmaker Alvarion.)
What does this mean for Sprint Nextel’s (S) WiMax network, which is being spun off into Clearwire (CLWR) — and has recently attracted billions of dollars of investment from the cable industry, Google (GOOG), and Intel (INTC)?
Not much, in theory: Sprint has its infrastructure suppliers lined up, including Motorola (MOT) and Samsung — and not Nortel. (One of the reasons that Nortel’s departure isn’t a surprise.)
But it’s not good news for Sprint and its partners. In any format war, you want more allies, not less. Just ask HD DVD backer Toshiba.
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