Nortel is quietly undergoing organizational changes including the possible divestiture of its UMTS wireless business.
Nortel has separated the GSM and UMTS access businesses due to differing market requirements, Nortel spokespeople stated in e-mail and phone responses to requests for comments on a research note from UBS Warburg highlighting the moves.
"The second-generation GSM and third-generation UMTS technologies are at two very different market stages," Nortel responded in the e-mail. As such, they require different levels of focus, spokespeople said.
UBS Warburg states the move "may presage a potential spin-off/disposal of the UMTS access business." The Nortel spokespeople said the company intends to make a decision about its UMTS access business -- either bulking it up, partnering, or divesting -- that will be communicated at a later date.
"Whatever we do, we will work closely with our customers to ensure they are not negatively impacted," the spokespeople said.
George Riedel, Nortel's chief strategy officer, was noncommittal on UMTS during a recent interview.
"The statement of the facts are obvious: we don't have a leading share position there," Riedel said. "We're actually much more excited, frankly, about 4G as opposed to UMTS."
Nortel also confirmed that Mark Whitton, vice president and general manager for Nortel's WiMAX and Wireless Mesh Networks division, has left the company. No replacement has been named.
Nortel recently announced plans to pare 1,100 positions from its workforce, many in middle management.
Meanwhile, Alan Stoddard, vice president and general manager of Converged Core Networks, has been reassigned within the company. His new role has yet to be determined, but he has been replaced by Alfredo DeCardenas, vice president and general manager of converged multimedia networks and GSM/UMTS voice core.
Converged Core Networks includes Nortel's IMS operations. WiMAX and IMS have been targeted as two of three strategic areas of focus for Nortel as it attempts to recover from restating years of financial results following a high-level accounting scandal.