Nortel Jumps on Wi-Fi Bandwagon

Just when you thought Nortel was only focused on Wi-Max, it comes out with an ambitious plan to tackle the Wi-Fi market as well. In a press release, the company said it is “increasing its investments” (didn’t provide details on how many dollars are involved) by creating a new municipal Wi-Fi lab, launching a new P.R. campaign for its Wi-Fi technology, and aligning itself with a handful of industry players. This group (none of whom I’ve ever heard about) includes, 121Media Inc., Accela Inc., Aptilo Networks, Blue Vector Systems, NetMotion Wireless, Pronto Networks and smarTVideo Technologies. Nortel said this alliance will allow it to offer broadband wireless services such as in-vehicle communication systems, automated meter reading, digital video surveillance, asset or fleet tracking, subscriber management and mobile television. In theory, the focus on all these wireless services sounds encouraging but how many of these partners are among the leaders in their respective service markets? It’s one thing for Nortel to get everyone excited about a technology – be it Wi-Max, Wi-Fi or metro Ethernet – it’s quite another to be a viable player. If Nortel announced an an alliance with Ottawa-based Belair Networks, which provides base stations for muni Wi-Fi networks, that would be an interesting partnership. Or if Nortel did a deal with AirIQ, which is a player in the fleet tracking market, there would be cause for enthusiasm. Nortel has good intentions, the question is whether good intentions can lead to good results.

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5 Responses to “Nortel Jumps on Wi-Fi Bandwagon”

  1. More research suggested Says:

    You may want to do more research on this topic. Nortel has had their Wireless Mesh product in the marketplace for 18+ months. The City of Taipei has implemented around 5,000 nodes and was awarded the 2006 Intelligent Community of the Year for these efforts. (http://www2.nortel.com/go/news_detail.jsp?cat_id=-8055&oid=100202587&locale=en-US)

    It sounds like these new alliances help to bring new applications to the infrastructure Nortel has been delivering for some time now.

  2. nortel Says:

    i didn’t mean to suggest nortel isn’t playing in the wi-fi market. it was more that nortel has a habit of trying to get everyone stoked about its presence in a particular strategic focus when, in fact, it’s not a leading player in the space. look at what it’s trying to do with wi-max as an example.

  3. Observer Says:

    I have never heard of Qware either:

    http://www.nortel.com/corporate/news/newsreleases/2004d/11_17_04_taipei_city.html

    “The Taipei City Government evaluated numerous bidders for months before recently signing a contract with Qware, which plans to operate a wireless broadband network based on Nortel’s Wireless Mesh Network solution. Qware has issued a Notice of Award to Nortel and the parties are currently negotiating a supply agreement. Qware expects to have 10,000 wireless access points in service by year-end 2005 to provide coverage for Taipei City, an area of 272 square kilometers where 90 percent of Taipei’s 2.65 million people live.”

  4. More research suggested Says:

    I think it is valuable to have presence in both the WiFi Mesh and WiMAX markets since WiMAX requires the use of licensed spectrum. Not many cities or municipalities will have licensed spectrum rights.

    Since Nortel and BelAir are direct competitors in Wireless Mesh and alliance between the two doesn’t make much sense.

  5. Ross Says:

    Mark,

    I agree with your suggestion that this announcement looks like an empty marketing press release to help build / maintain awareness of their business in this regard. It is important to note however, that Nortel has lead the industry with their investments in this space. They were one of the first of the big vendors to launch a product and business around mesh networks, specifically targeting campus and muni-wifi opportunities. It represented a different kind of business for Nortel, and they have had trouble capitalizing on their investments so far. It may be that they were actually too early coming to market with their solution, and were not able to build sufficient momentum. This announcement may represent another attempt to rebuild that momentum.

    Personally, I remain dubious over the market potential of Muni WiFi, in general. I am much more excited by the potential for ‘Condominium’ fibre networks as described by Bill St. Arnaud at the recent Voice 2.0 conference in Ottawa. With Nortel’s strength in Optical markets and technology, I am surprised that they are not aggressively innovating in this space to help create and extend business opportunities for themselves.

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