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signed a nonbinding memorandum of understanding to buy



wireless network infrastructure business for $320 million.

Paris-based Alcatel, which is in the process of buying Nortel rival

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, said it will acquire Nortel's universal mobile telecommunications, or UMTS, radio access business. The deal will help Alcatel "expand its global leadership in broadband access."

A significant majority of employees of Toronto-based Nortel's UMTS access business will be transferred to Alcatel. Following the transaction, Alcatel would serve an additional 14 UMTS customers around the world for a combined global footprint that amounts to one in four UMTS operators.

The news comes just a month after

reports of a deal in the so-called third-generation wireless gear area surfaced. Third-generation, or 3G, wireless networks enable features like email and Web browsing.

"This deal will be a win-win for both companies and our customers," said Richard Lowe, president, Mobility and Converged Core Networks, Nortel.