Nortel Sells Off Businesses, Expands UC Offerings

A week after Nortel sold off several business units to Nokia Siemens Networks for $650 million, Nortel announces Release 3.0 of its SCS unified communications solution, as well as a deal in which it will work with Microsoft to bring a UC environment to a European telecom. Nortel has been in Chapter 11 bankruptcy for most of the year, and officials say along with the Nokia deal they are also shopping around other business units.

As a bankrupt Nortel Networks looks to sell off various parts of its business, officials continue making enterprise moves, including two unified communications announcements.

Nortel announced June 23 that it was extending its SCS (Software Communication System), an open UC solution that had been targeted to small and midsize businesses, to enterprises.

The next day, Nortel said a European telecommunications service provider, Telecom Liechtenstein, was upgrading its internal communications infrastructure with a UC solution from a partnership between Nortel and Microsoft.

To read more about Nortel's unified communications offerings, click here.

Both moves come less than a week after Nortel officials said the company-which has been under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection since earlier in 2009-was selling off some of its businesses to Nokia Siemens Networks for $650 million, and that Nortel was talking with other companies about selling off other parts of Nortel, rather than continuing to pursue a restructuring of the company.

The Nokia Siemens Network deal, announced June 19, includes Nortel's CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) wireless business and LTE (Long Term Evolution) technology. Nortel said its wireless business is the second-largest global supplier of CDMA infrastructure.

When the deal was announced, Richard Lowe, president of Nortel's Carrier Networks unit, said finding a buyer for those two units was important to ensure the businesses' future.

"If successfully completed, this transaction would give many of our CDMA customers a clear road map for the future evolution of their networks and the opportunity to extend their relationship with a long-term partner," Lowe said in a statement. "Further, we expect that a significant portion of the employees associated with the assets being sold would be able to continue their innovative work."

Nortel officials said 2,500 employees could end up working for Nokia.

There is speculation that other key Nortel businesses that could be for sale, including its Enterprise business unit and Metro Ethernet Networks business.

Meanwhile, Nortel is pushing forward with its UC plans. Company officials noted that IT and communications functions are converging, opening up the opportunity for UC technologies such as Nortel's SCS.

Release 3.0 of SCS is increasing its support to such industry-standard platforms as Dell's PowerEdge systems, Hewlett-Packard's ProLiant servers, and IBM's x3350 x86 servers and its Power-based systems.

The new release also is scaling from SMBs to large, distributed enterprise networks, Nortel officials said.

In the deal with Telecom Liechtenstein-which has more than 5,000 enterprise customers in Liechtenstein, Austria and Switzerland-Nortel is integrating Microsoft's Office Communications Server with its Nortel voice communication infrastructure. The UC environment will be provided through Nortel's and Microsoft's Innovative Communications Alliance.

The move will lead to UC applications that will improve business operations and the way employees communicate, as well as enhance customer service, according to Nortel. Thanks to the new UC network, employees will be able to securely access Telecom Liechtenstein's corporate network through their mobile devices.

In the second phase of the project, Telecom Liechtenstein will offer a hybrid network UC solution to enterprise customers in the three countries it serves.

"Unified communications bring speed and simplicity to business processes and improve operations," Rolf Weidmann, sales director for service providers at Nortel, said in a statement. "These new capabilities can also provide Telecom Liechtenstein with new and innovative business opportunities because many small and medium-sized enterprises could use Telecom Liechtenstein's hybrid service to leverage the productivity enhancements that unified communications offers themselves."