UTStarcom Inc. will eliminate at least 500 jobs this month and in early 2009 in a wrenching restructuring that the wireless communications company hopes will slash operating expenses by more than $100 million a year.

Alameda-based UTStarcom did not disclose how many East Bay employees would be affected by the job cuts.

The company did say the job cuts would amount to 10 percent of its work force. UTStarcom employs about 5,000 worldwide, spokeswoman Darlene Derosa said.

The staff reductions will top 500, though. In addition to the cutbacks in its core businesses, UTStarcom will wind down its South Korea-based handset manufacturing operations and will disband its custom solutions business unit. UTStarcom wouldn't disclose how many people work in those business units.

"Over the past 12 months, we have achieved a year-over-year operating expense reduction of 20 percent and streamlined our business to improve our competitive and financial position," said Peter Blackmore, UTStarcom's chief executive officer and president.

Executive officers with the company, including the CEO, have voluntarily agreed to decline their cash bonuses for 2008.

UTStarcom expects to incur restructuring charges totaling $18 million, which will be realized in the fourth quarter of 2008.

The wind down of the handset manufacturing operation will product a $10 million charge to write-down assets and pay one-severance benefits.

The worldwide workforce reduction will create an $8 million restructuring charge, comprised of one-time severance benefits.

The company also intends to consolidate its back-office operations to China, Derosa said.

George Avalos covers jobs, economic development, commercial real estate, finance and oil companies. Reach him at 925-977-8477 or gavalos@bayareanewsgroup.com