Nortel’s 4G Campaign

I’m always fascinating with corporate marketing spin jobs where companies blatantly attempt to position themselves to take advantage of emerging markets with fertile growth potential. For Nortel, these campaigns have gone back forth between 4G, IP-TV and VoIP in recent months.

These days, 4G has become the cat’s meow. In preparation for the 3GSM conference, Nortel put out a press release touting the “4G Lifestyle”. Today, an interview done by ZDNet’s Tom Foremski with Nortel CTO John Roese is another part of the 4G “message” that Nortel wants to deliver to the world. In the interview, Roese said 4G is a radical new business strategy in which Nortel is betting carriers will want to offer higher-speed wireless networks so they can deliver a better Web experience (video, IP-TV) to consumers.

“We realized that for Nortel to be successful, we had to get totally behind 4G,” Roese said. “That’s why we have been selling our older lines of business. We call it our burn the boats strategy. It is what Alexander the Great did when his army crossed into Asia, there is no going back.”

Either Roese is showing off his historical knowledge by citing Alexander the Great, and/or he’s doing some serious playing up to Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski, who just happens to be Macedonian – just like Alexander the Great. Either way, Nortel has put a lot of chips behind a market where it’s not seen as a leading or dominant player. It’s a huge strategic gamble but perhaps one Nortel has no choice to make if it wants to avoid becoming a second-tier player in the telecom equipment market.

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10 Responses to “Nortel’s 4G Campaign”

  1. B.S. Meter Says:

    Though it is true that many ‘a Greek conquerors burned their boats upon arriving and occupying a new land this was not the case with Alexander the Great. Alexander crossed into Asia Minor at The Hellespont, which today is know as the Straits of Dardanelles (Bosporus, Turkey) and, furthermore, upon crossing into Asia Minor, Alexander took a single galley and toured the eastern shores of Asia Minor visiting the ancient ruins of Troy.

    However, the inaccuracy of historical facts notwithstanding, the commitment behind NT’s 4G strategy is acknowledged and appreciated. Good luck.

  2. Mike L Says:

    we all know what happened to Alexander the Great in Asia. Total and utter defeat. Funny that Roese would use this as an example.

    Nortel is betting the farm on a technology that is not going to produce any revenue for at least three more quarters. Having lost Sprint, the single biggest WiMax revenue source in NA has dried up.

    The N.A. MSOs are still debating on wether to use WiMax and will have to get WiMax FDD profile approved before being able to use AWS spectrum and the European operators will do the damnest to keep WiMax out and to capitalize on their 3G+ investment.

    So a measly contract in Greece and one in Taiwan are a drop on a hot stone as far as Nortel’s revenue goes.

    Once someone burns all the boats, there is no coming back, which is only a good strategy if where your going actually has food and water…..

  3. Dimitrakis Says:

    Given his dealings with what some termed “Nortel’s last dance partner” in merger (Motorola), they may burning bridges than boats. Given a some key people who departed, do they also execute the bearer of bad news like the ancient Romans too?

    Also Until relatively recently, it was thought that Alexander was Macedonian until the tomb of Philip (his father) was found in Greece. Our very language, mathematics, philosophy, and every contemporary emotion reiterated in global academia didn’t evolve from slovic Macedonians. I wonder what the fellas at RIM would have to say. =)

    If the CEO was a real Greek and not a Slovic Macedonian, we could say his dealing with MOT may have thwarted any chance for a big fat Greek wedding, a low class prole movie grossly contemporary Greeks. Calling Mike Greek only adds insult to injury. =)

  4. mmnnbb Says:

    I would like to see the major US companies burn their corporate jets and go commercial like the rest of us. It would save money and provide a great spectacle.

  5. Apple Says:

    “We realized that for Nortel to be successful, we had to get totally behind 4G,” Roese said. “That’s why we have been selling our older lines of business. We call it our burn the boats strategy. It is what Alexander the Great did when his army crossed into Asia, there is no going back.”
    NT is out of router business /Neptune/
    NT is out of DSL solutions
    NT is getting out of UMTS
    the bridges and boats are burnt and Nortel is chasing a mirage from the future
    NT is in 4G which can be deployed commercially in 2010
    How much cash NT needs to survive without new products to the year 2010?

  6. Apple Says:

    4G – a marketing buzzword !
    this source says 2012 !!!!

    2G networks (GSM, cdmaOne, DAMPS) are the first digital cellular systems launched early 1990s.
    · 2.5G networks (GPRS, cdma2000 1x) are the enhanced versions of 2G networks with data rates up to about 144kbit/s.
    · 3G networks (UMTS FDD and TDD, cdma2000 1x EVDO, cdma2000 3x, TD-SCDMA, Arib WCDMA, EDGE, IMT-2000 DECT) are the latest cellular networks that have data rates 384kbit/s and more.
    · 4G is mainly a marketing buzzword at the moment. Some basic 4G research is being done, but no frequencies have been allocated. The Forth Generation could be ready for implementation around 2012.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    probably leader until 2010 as nobody buys this. then when the market is ready it will become another boat to burn.

    today even 3g is a hard sell so not sure whats going on as Mike Z. stated no skunkwaorks and this looks like a skunkworks operation.

  8. Spotticus Says:


    Interesting that UMTS World would say that 4G won’t be ready for several years. Which is true for LTE (The UMTS version of 4G), but WiMax 4G will be available in customer networks before the end of the year. I know of several european customers that already own WiMax spectrum and are seeking to deploy in the next 2 years. Same with Sprint in the US.

  9. To Spotticus Says:

    Another interesting thing is if you read to the bottom of the UMTS World article mentioned, it looks like it was written in 2002. A lot can happen over a 4 to 5 year time period. Apple is also well known to dig up old information and attempt to use it as recent events. The WiMAX Forum had just barely started with no standards work in progress at all in 2002. His 2012 date is bogus.

  10. Apple Says:

    All the pages in the web site are updated (ir)regularly. Technology section is updated most frequently as it gets about 50 percent of the hits. UMTS Overview page is the most popular page after the home page. Every single link in this site is hand picked and (ir)regularly checked.
    I hope that you find UMTS World useful. I value your input and with your comments and suggestions I am able to improve our site. If you have any 3G information or news you would like us to publish on this web site, please email:

    If you have any comments or would like to report a fault on this web site, please email:

    I get a lot of emails. If you have a general question about UMTS or 3G, please check the FAQ page and technology section before sending me an email. Thanks!
    about UMTS World

    UMTS World’s purpose is to provide free and almost unbiased UMTS and 3G technology and industry information. Web site provides the latest and archived 3G news, lots of links to resources, popular FAQ page and also documents the main 3G developments. UMTS World is non-commercial web site and so also a non-profit web site. Any possible income from advertising or sponsorships will be used to cover ISP costs and site development. UMTS World is not associated with or sponsored by any 3G related vendors, operators, forums or other web sites. UMTS World does not endorse any 3G products.

    Best Regards
    Petri Possi
    UMTS World
    Sydney, Australia

    Petri Possi is a wireless network consultant. He has over twelve years experience in a wireless industry working with network planning companies, infrastructure vendors and mobile operators.
    in conclusion why don’t you ask the source

    Petri Possi
    UMTS World
    Sydney, Australia

    about 2012?

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