Mobile Bits: Sprint/Clearwire; Motorola Split; China/Skype

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Credit: Clearwire

Sprint/Clearwire: The tumultuous times at Clearwire continue. Sprint (NYSE: S) today said that it would not be buying debt from Clearwire (NSDQ: CLWR). Sprint, which owns 54 percent of Clearwire and uses its WiMax network for its wireless broadband service, had until January 2 to participate in the company’s billion debt offering, which has raised about $1.4 billion. The news comes a week after founder Craig McCaw resigned as chairman of the cash-strapped WiMax operator. (via Bloomberg)

Motorola: After years of planning, on Tuesday, Motorola (NYSE: MOT) will officially split and start trading as two separate companies, the consumer and device-focussed Motorola Mobility, and the professional-services focussed Motorola Solutions, led respectively by Sanjay Jha and Greg Brown. Last year, the mobile devices unit was profitable for the first time in three years, helped in part by the company’s move into Android-based devices, a relationship it will be extending when it launches tablets and other devices during the CES show this week. (via AP)

China/VoIP: The Chinese government is considering a crack-down on Internet-based phone services that let users make cheap calls from their computers to phones. The rules will only apply to privately-owned companies like Skype; Chinese state-owned companies are not affected. Also, it seems that calls between computers will not fall under the restrictions, either. It’s not clear exactly why the government is focussing on these services: it could be to ensure incumbents against competition from cheaper providers; or it could be because of a wave of phone scams that are appearing on these services. China has the world’s largest internet-using population, at 450 million. (via AFP)

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Um, Motorola’s being split into two companies. One with 2.9 B in sales with all the Motorola products we know about and another with 1.9 B in sales with only the ominous label “Professional Services”. What the heck is that? Do they make ARM chips? FPGA products for government products? Enterprise middle-ware? Are they a franchise of the Japanese mob? What is this ultra-secret organisation that none of the news stories on the split is able to penetrate? If you are afraid to tell us for attempts on your life, you can use code word “grapefruit”.

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