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Motorola to Split Company in Two

Motorola announced plans to split the company into two publicly traded entities. The handset division will be spun off into its own company and the other company will include broadband and mobility solutions. Motorola said it expects the separation to take place sometime in 2009. The separation will take the form of a tax-free distribution to shareholders, meaning shareholders will own shares in both companies.

The news sent Motorola shares up 6.4% in pre-market trading.

“Our decision to separate our mobile devices and broadband and mobility solutions businesses follows a review process undertaken by our management team and board of directors, together with independent advisers,” said Greg Brown, Motorola's president and CEO, in a statement. “Creating two industry-leading companies will provide improved flexibility, more tailored capital structures and increased management focus – as well as more targeted investment opportunities for our shareholders.”

Brown also said that Motorola is searching for a new chief executive for the mobile devices business: “We believe strongly in our brand, our people and our intellectual property, and expect that the Mobile Devices business will be well-positioned to regain market leadership as a focused, independent company.”

 

Report: Comcast, Time Warner Cable to Back Sprint’s WiMAX Plans
By Teresa von Fuchs

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Comcast and Time Warner Cable are in talks about possibly funding a WiMAX venture by Sprint Nextel and Clearwire. Citing people familiar with the talks, the Journal reported that Comcast could invest as much as $1 billion in the venture, with Time Warner Cable kicking in up to $500 million.  The report also states that smaller cable operator Bright House Networks also has been involved in the talks.

The Journal report also cited that Intel was still interested in participating in the venture, depending on the terms, and Google also could contribute financially. The report said the exact amount each party puts up is likely to change and the whole deal could still fall through.

It’s possible Sprint could reveal its plans for its WiMAX network soon. The Wireless Communications Association International sent out a release plugging its WCA 2008 convention next month in Washington, D.C., and announced that Barry West, Sprint chief technology officer and president of its Xohm business unit, will deliver a keynote address on April 22. The release said that West is expected to discuss the company’s upcoming Xohm commercial WiMAX launch in the Metropolitan Washington, Baltimore and Chicago markets.

 

Sprint’s New Customer Retention Employee Incentive Plan
By Teresa von Fuchs

In more Sprint news, as part of the company’s plans to retain customers, it is changing an employee bonus plan, trying to emphasize the importance of stopping current customers from canceling service.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, the struggling carrier outlined the short-term incentive plan for company officers and other eligible employees for the remaining three quarters of this year. Churn accounts for 40% of the target; adjusted OIBDA is weighted at 20%; free cash flow at 20%; and calls from subscribers to customer care representatives are weighted at 20%. In its previous incentive-filing, Sprint weighed churn at only 20%.

 

Court Grants Stay on FCC E911 Order
By Teresa von Fuchs

The D.C. Court of Appeals has stayed an order by the FCC seeking to improve E911 accuracy standards by wireless carriers.

In September, the commission approved an order that would require carriers to locate wireless callers who dialed 911 within certain distances; carriers would no longer be able to meet accuracy standards by statewide averages. The FCC's new accuracy order required wireless companies to meet annual benchmarks, and fully comply with the new standards by Sept. 11, 2012.

A group of rural wireless carriers as well as AT&T, Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel sought the stay on the order while they pursue an appeal to the order. The D.C. Court cited “substantive and procedural objects” to the commission’s order.

 

Mass E-Mailing Targeted for Mobiles
By Evan Koblentz

iPost, which sells e-mail delivery and marketing services, is now offering software for tailoring content to mobile devices.

The new application is called Content Optimizer and is based on existing enterprise e-mail tools from Pivotal Veracity, officials said.

Specifically, the software lets content creators review their e-mails using client programs such as Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft’s Hotmail, and Yahoo! Mail on a variety of mobile devices before pressing the final Send button.

Pivotal Veracity’s eDesign Optimizer is the underlying technology, supplying features such as rendering, links validation, standards compliance checking, and load-time analysis, according to that company’s Website.

 

Samsung Announces New Handset, Acquisition and Partnership
By Teresa von Fuchs

Samsung released its latest touchscreen-based handset in South Korea yesterday. Special features of the Anycall phone include haptic feedback, or touch-sensitive reactions built into the phone, such as when the volume of the radio is changed the handset will simulate both the sound and feel of the “clicks” of the volume knob on a vintage stereo. Samsung built in 22 kinds of haptic feedback into the phone.

Anycall, also known as the SCH-W420 or SPH-W4200, also sports a 3.2-inch widescreen touch display, 2-megapixel camera, Internet browser, Bluetooth 2.0 and terrestrial digital TV reception.

In South Korea the handset will cost between $700 and $800; no word from the company on when a worldwide release might be coming.

Samsung also announced the acquisition of IP assets of Clairvoyant, an IP licensing company responsible for the development of PenTile subpixel rendering display technology. Samsung says that Clairvoyante’s PenTile technology offers a significant reduction in power consumption for high-resolution mobile LCDs.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Following the close of the acquisition, Samsung said Clairvoyante will be dissolved and the new entity will be called Nouvoyance. It will be led by Candice Brown Elliott, a founder of Clairvoyante. Together with Samsung, Nouvoyance will carry forward the future development of PenTile technology.

And finally the handset maker also announced a multi-year agreement with Nuance Communications, a provider of speech and imaging solutions. The company said that with Nuance speech solutions for mobile devices, it can simplify and enhance the way its customers use mobile phones, applications and services.

The global license agreement includes Nuance’s VSuite, Vocalizer and VoiceMode speech-based services and interfaces, which have collectively shipped on more than 160 Samsung models for the last several years.

 

Alltel Launches Video Sharing, Rating
By Teresa von Fuchs

Alltel Wireless announced that customers with video-capable phones now have exclusive access to Alltel Social Video, a new application that allows customers to share and rate videos from a wide range of online outlets. To deliver the application, Alltel Wireless has teamed with Transpera, a provider of mobile video services.

Customers can subscribe to the service for $2.99 per month and access videos from sources such as Break.com, an online entertainment channel for men; independent entertainment brand AtomFilms; and GrindTV.com, an online destination for action-oriented videos and content. After viewing the videos, customers have the option to rate the video or share the content via the “Send-to-Friend” feature. In addition, customers can search for videos across channels, create custom playlists and manage distribution lists.

“As the mobile phone continues to evolve into a portable entertainment device, Alltel Wireless is constantly seeking ways to engage customers through their phones, as more and more are taking advantage of the video capabilities offered on their handsets,” said Craig Kirkland, director of messaging and voice services for Alltel Wireless, in a statement. “Alltel Social Video allows our customers to interact with video and lets them become part of an online video community.”

 

Thumbplay to Sell Mobile Content for Clear Channel Radio
By Wireless Week Staff

Mobile entertainment and content service Thumbplay announced a new relationship with Clear Channel Radio to roll out customized mobile content stores across more than 650 of its local music stations’ Websites.  Thumbplay’s mobile content stores already have launched on more than 100 stations’ Websites across the country, including those in large metropolitan markets such as Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Dallas, Boston, Washington D.C., Atlanta and Houston.

As part of the deal, each radio station site will host a customized store featuring format-appropriate mobile content. Thumbplay also announced a customizable widget allowing DJs at each station to choose their favorite ringtones and update those selections themselves online.

“Many of our listeners first discover their favorite songs on radio,” said Larry Linietsky, vice president of Business and Product Development for Clear Channel Online Music and Radio, in a statement. “We can now connect the dots by delivering a broad selection of mobile content, including exclusive station-created ringtones and graphics, right to our listeners via our stations’ Web sites.”

 

Report: Sales of WLAN Equipment Up
By Teresa von Fuchs

According to the latest quarterly report from analysis firm Infonetics Research, worldwide sales of wireless LAN equipment, including independent and dependent access points and WLAN switches and controllers, reached $1.9 billion in 2007, up 20% from 2006. The report cites the increased rollout of enterprise wireless LANs and an increase in upgrades to 802.11n as part of the increase.

The report also showed a jump in sales of enterprise single-mode Wi-Fi phones; sales were up 61% in 2007, due to increased adoption of wireless VoIP throughout the enterprise market.

“Wireless LAN is becoming an increasingly ubiquitous technology and is commonly embedded into laptops, PDAs, phones, game consoles and media adapters. Its widespread availability, affordability, flexibility and usage will make it an important technology even as other high-speed wireless technologies like 3.5G and mobile WiMAX come to the fore,” said Richard Webb, directing analyst for wireless and mobile devices at Infonetics Research, in a statement. “Additionally, Wi-Fi-enabled smartphones like the iPhone and RIM's Wi-Fi Blackberry will significantly increase Wi-Fi hotspot traffic. In January 2008, AT&T, which offers the iPhone in the United States, took over Starbucks' hotspots from T-Mobile, giving this segment an injection of fresh stimulus.”

 

News Briefs for March 26, 2008
Companies in today’s briefs include: Ericsson, mCel, Motorola, LSTI, Kyocera America, Anne Schelle, Open Mobile Video Coalition

• Ericsson has been chosen by Mozambican operator mCel for the expansion and upgrade of its Mobile Packet Backbone Network solution (Mobile-PBN). Ericsson will be the carrier’s sole supplier. The contract includes Redback's SmartEdge products, and is set to boost network capacity and manage increasing traffic. Ericsson said that the solution is already being deployed and expects to complete the project during the second quarter.

• Motorola announced it has joined the LTE/System Architecture Evolution (SAE) Trial Initiative (LSTI). The company has been a major contributor to the Third Generation Partnership Project (3GPP) LTE standard.

• Kyocera America has announced two executive-level promotions to take effect April 1, 2008.  Gary Lee, currently national product manager of Organic Product Sales, will be promoted to vice president of the business unit. Lee will be responsible for expanding Kyocera’s North American business in semiconductor package products based on organic and plastic material technologies. Kenji Aonuma, currently general manager of the International Sales Division for the Semiconductor Components Group at Kyocera in Kyoto will transfer to Kyocera America and assume new responsibilities as vice president of Asia Ceramic Products Sales.

• Anne Schelle has been named executive director of the Open Mobile Video Coalition (OMVC).  In her new role, Schelle said she will spearhead efforts by the OMVC, an alliance of commercial and public broadcasters, to accelerate the development of mobile digital TV broadcasting in the United States. Schelle comes to the OMVC from her role as a partner at Actium Advisors, which provides strategic, transactional and operational expertise to clients in the telecom, media and finance sectors.




Source:  FirstNews - March 26, 2008,
WirelessWeek - March 26, 2008, Motorola to Split Company in Two, By Teresa von Fuchs
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