It may not be making WiMax equipment any more, but Nortel is very keen to say it hasn't "pulled out" of WiMax.

The company is still in the WiMax business, a spokesman told me. In fact, it just appointed a new general manager of its WiMax division, and I've been told it will carry on its WiMax promotion activity in the UK.

What's happened? It has stopped making WiMax radio access equipment, and gone to Alvarion for that piece of the puzzle.

Scott Wickware, Nortel's new WiMax head, says it's mostly a matter of timing. "WiMax is pretty much here and now, but LTE is out there a couple of years," he said. Given that, it made more sense to work with Alvarion's proven products, and develop its own products for LTE which is coming along later.

Wickware had a lot to say about the relative merits of WiMax and LTE. He was previously previously VP of marketing for Nortel's carrier business, so he's been answering that question for a while.

Underneath all that, there is a shift of emphasis, but Wickware stressed that this Nortel isn't going soft on the WiMax market. In the UK, for instance, it's still backing the Mobile Wireless Acceleration Group (M-WAG) and its demonstrator in Maidstone.

And it will be investing in development with Alvarion: "It's not just an OEM deal - we are working very closely with them on the the product we will both sell independently into the market," said Wickware.

"We will be developing products together, and engaging the market together," echoed Alvarion's European WiMax marketing manager Asaf Inbar. "There's no wishy washy stuff here."

Inbar reckoned Nortel has just improved its product line for WiMax by taking on Alvarion kit - but then he would say that, wouldn't he? And Wickware thinks Alvarion just improved its access to potential operator customers - but then, he would say that, wouldn't he?