Nortel Networks: Old Dog, New TricksBy Baselinemag | Posted 2004-03-01 Email Print
Nortel, relatively slow off the mark, is counting on its strong customer base to make inroads.
But the company has secured a foothold in IP telephony largely becauselike Avayait's well entrenched in the circuit-switched voice arena. An estimated 50 million enterprise phone lines are connected to Nortel equipment today.
The Klein Independent School District (ISD) in Texas selected Nortel phone systems in 2000 after evaluating offerings from Cisco and others. "We felt Nortel had a major position in the voice-communications marketplace," says Donald Chiu, the district's associate director of information technologies. Still, he notes, Nortel is an expensive choice: Klein ISD spent about $3 million to deploy 2,500 wireless, IP-based phones to teachers and staff. "For a school district, Nortel's pricing looks like a luxury. But I think voice communications is a required utility," Chiu says.
Some Nortel customers realized IP telephony saved money only after they started using it. In 2001, the House of Blues Concerts Canada began experimenting with voice-over-IP to connect its Nortel system in Toronto with its Vancouver office. The company found it cut long-distance charges by up to 80%, saving around $900 ($1,200 Canadian) per month, as most calls were between the two locations. "We save just unbelievable amounts of dough," says Howie Gold, manager of information technology.
For John Wegener, chief information officer at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto, IP-enabling an existing Nortel private branch exchange (PBX) was the best means of adopting the new technology. "We had no reason to change from Nortel," he says. In mid-2002, St. Michael's deployed 140 IP-based phones, which has eliminated the costs associated with moving them among offices. The IP models simply plug into Ethernet- network jacks and are up and running; moving a traditional phone requires a technician to reprogram the PBX and can take up to two hours.
But otherwise, the IP-based phones provide exactly the same functions as the old ones, so Wegener hasn't felt compelled to roll out new units for the rest of his approximately 6,000 employees. "More pressing projects are taking precedence," he says.
8200 Dixie Road,
Brampton, Ontario L6T 5P6, Canada
Ticker: NT (NYSE)
VP/General Manager, Enterprise Business Networks
Oversees voice phone systems for business, including those based on Internet Protocol (IP). Joined Nortel in 1980 after graduating from college with a business degree.
Dir., Product Management, Enterprise Business Networks
In charge of development and strategy for the Succession line of IP voice systems.
Succession 3.0 is IP call-server software that runs on dedicated servers as well as Meridian 1 phone systems designed for circuit-switched networks. The Business Communications Manager (BCM) telephony and data networking system is aimed at small and midsize businesses and branch offices.
Klein Independent School District Executives listed here are all users of Nortel Networks' products/services. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.
Associate Dir., I.T.
Project: Texas school district connected the Nortel system at one location to its main office over a fiber-optic link, saving about $45,000 per month on regional phone charges.
St. Michael's Hospital
Project: Toronto hospital added IP capability to its Meridian voice system for 140 phones.
Oregon Dept. of Transportation
Vance L. Snook
Project: Agency connects a Nortel phone system at its main Salem facility over IP to a Portland field office and to a Wilsonville prison that operates a 40-inmate call center.
Southwest TelecommuniCations Cooperative
Project: Minnesota educational-service agency uses Nortel BCM to link voice calls among five school districts over IP.
Senior VP, I.T. and Purchasing
Project: Italian restaurant chain uses Nortel's BCM to route phone calls placed to 104 eateries to a central reservations call center over IP connections.
House of Blues Concerts Canada
Manager of I.T.
Project: Concert promoter sends calls between its Vancouver and Toronto offices with Nortel's BCM, cutting long- distance charges.
Executives listed here are all users of Nortel Networks' products/services. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.