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Nokia Sells Wireless Modem Business to Renesas

In an surprising strategy shift, Finland’s Nokia—still the largest maker of mobile handsets on the planet—has announced it is selling its wireless modem business to Japan’s Renesas Electronics in a deal worth about $200 million. Although technically a brand-new company formed from NEC Electronics Corp and Renesas Technology Corp, Renesas is a major player in the semiconductor and (especially) the micro-controller business, and is looking to Nokia’s wireless modems as a key addition to its dedicated chipset solutions. Renesas Technology has licensed Nokia models since 2009, and has been working with Nokia on developing HSPA+ and LTE modem technologies.

“Wireless modems are an integral part of today’s chipset solutions, and we believe that Renesas Electronics, as one of the key chipset vendors in the market, is in an ideal position to further develop this offering,” said Nokia executive VP Kai Oistamo, in a statement. “The alliance enables us to continue to focus on our own core businesses, connecting people to what matters to them with our mobile products and solutions.”

Folks who think modems are just peripherals for computers—and wireless models are USB devices you connect to a notebook—might wonder what the fuss is about. However, this deal has broad implications for every handset Nokia manufacturers, and includes Nokia’s wireless modem technologies for GSM, HSPA, and LTE standards. Renesas is also getting “certain patents” related to the transferred technology, along with approximately 1,100 Nokia research and development employees in Finland, Denmark, the United Kingdom, and India. The deal should make Renesas one of the top chip suppliers for mobile solutions on e broad variety of platforms—like ereaders, phones, mobile gaming devices, netbooks, tablet computers—particularly those that want to tap into GSM and (eventually) LTE technologies.

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