Walking away from the market, AT&T Wireless has sold its Project Angel fixed wireless technology to wireless communications equipment vendor Netro for just over £31m ($45m) in cash and stock.
AT&T Wireless said that the sale reflected the ongoing requirement to raise capital to fund its deployment of third-generation services within its mobile business.
Netro will pay around £11m ($16m) in cash and hand over 8.2 million shares of its own common stock to AT&T.
In return it will get all AT&T's fixed wireless technology and operations including its development team, intellectual property licences, equipment and software. Approximately 26 AT&T Wireless employees will switch to Netro.
Netro explained that the technology - developed by AT&T to enable it to bypass the copper last mile connections owned by its local phone company rivals - will be adapted for sale across Latin America and the Asia Pacific region.
Netro products based on the technology are set to start shipping by the second half of the year.
The deal comes as AT&T Wireless looks to focus on its core wireless phone business. The Project Angel technology took over 10 years to develop in AT&T's labs, but deployment only started in 2000. Since then the company has gained around 47,000 subscribers for the voice and data services it enabled.
Despite being developed to assist AT&T's long distance business, Project Angel became the responsibility of AT&T Wireless when that company was split from its parent. Now AT&T Wireless clearly wants nothing to do with it or the fixed wireless market.
According to AT&T Wireless, existing customers will be moved to competing service providers by the spring and it has no plans to buy the Project Angel equipment from Netro in the future.
Nevertheless, the Project Angel technology is well suited to markets outside the US, said Netro. As an orthogonal frequency division multiplexing-based technology, it does not require line of sight in order to be deployed.
According to Netro, following some work on the existing radios and network interface the technology will offer low frequency access in countries where there is limited wireline infrastructure, such as China.
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