In a concerted effort to push Internet-based voice and multimedia services into the large-enterprise market, Nortel Networks Ltd. and Bell Canada are developing a new IP-based network and beefing up their joint research initiatives. Down the road, they plan to expand the project to be able to provide similar new services to small and midsize businesses.
Bell Canada, which has more enterprise customers than any of the countrys other telecommunications carriers, will launch some of the new services in mid-2004, beginning in British Columbia, according to Eugene Roman, group president of Networks & Technology at Bell Canada, in Toronto. The services, based on a "one-network approach," will simplify communications from the customer perspective, Roman said in a teleconference last week.
Enterprises will have access to the same telephone features they have today, but they will also have combined options such as instant video calling; unified messaging; and "hot desking," which lets mobile workers set up an instant work space with their phone numbers and calling preferences.
Calling the delivery of multimedia services "the next historical inflection point in communications," Nortel officials said telecommunications services will no longer be linked to specific devices.
"It allows us to be in charge of our communications instead of communications controlling us," said a Nortel spokesman, describing the future work environment as one of increased "nomadicity."
In addition to blending voice and data traffic over a converged wireless/wire-line infrastructure, Nortels vision is to further merge public and private networks, officials said. Maintaining that VOIP (voice over IP) is a disruptive technology, officials said the developments with Bell Canada will be "a key to the fabric of society and to economic development."
The companies are setting up the Bell Canada and Nortel Networks Innovation Centre, scheduled to open in Ottawa before the end of the year. Initial work will focus on hosted applications, such as a hosted VOIP service, for business customers, Roman said. The vendors hope to develop an "IP ecosystem," where third parties can participate in the creation of applications, said Nortel officials.