Tech Telecom Roundup: WiMAX Money, Sprint Suit, Nokia Cuts, HD Radio

Last Updated Nov 5, 2008 10:11 AM EST

WiMAX gets WiMAD money-- As companies get ready for a rocky slide, WiMAX management vendor WiChorus put down a considerable layer of burlap in the form of $18 million in funding from Pinnacle Ventures and three current investors. This makes a total of $43 million the company has pulled in. The FCC gave its blessing to the $14.5 billion Sprint Nextel and Clearwire deal, announced in May, to merge their WiMAX offerings and, they hope, reach upwards of 140 million people by the end of 2010. All the deals will stand on more solidified sand next year as multi-mode WiMAX/LTE chips will hit the market in 2009. [Source: Red Herring, Silicon Alley Insider, DigiTimes]

Class action suit targets Sprint-- But Sprint Nextel can't afford to dance in the aisles over the WiMAX news because it now faces a class-action lawsuit over early termination fees. Plaintiffs claim that the company wrongly charged customers $1.2 billion. The lawyer behind this action is the same one that beat the company in court in July, resulting in a $73 million judgment. Sprint calls the new action "cynical and opportunistic." Is that another way of saying possibly successful? [Source: Wall Street Journal]

Nokia cuts a price, 600 jobs -- Nokia is coming out with its lowest-ever handset price of $32, largely looking at establishing itself in emerging markets like India. You have to cut a lot of costs to achieve new milestones, and the company is doing that as well, although not explicitly tying the two together, as it lays off 600 employees, mostly in marketing and sales, closes one of its office sites, and reduces the number of areas that its R&D center will work on. Cutting marketing, putting more emphasis on lower margin products, and cutting technology development -- sounds like a recipe to let the good times rock, not roll. [Source: ComputerWorld, TechCrunch]

HD radio struggles for market-- HD radio has been around for four years, but the technology that was supposed to save the industry from all manner of consumer choices for audio entertainment hasn't gone far. Prices for radios start at about $80 and many stations that use the technology pretty much put on the additional channels what it has on the primary one. Only about 600,000 are expected to sell this year, even as struggling Sirius XM satellite radio has 19 million subscribers and Apple's iPods sales stream makes even that number look small. The industry would like to think of this as FM supplanting AM, but the difference is that back then, that was about it for what consumers could do for quality time with streams of radio frequencies. Where are the stations really having success? Online. Uh, isn't that possible without a special radio? [Source: Wall Street Journal]
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.

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