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July 1999

rich.gif (5262 bytes) Nortel Weighs In On Internet Telephony


When Nortel Networks, one of the world’s largest telecommunications companies, purchases Bay Networks, one of the world’s largest data networking companies, it’s only a matter of time before a slew of new Internet telephony products emerge. The industry has eagerly been anticipating Nortel’s entry into the ring to take its rightful place among some of the other Internet telephony heavyweights such as Lucent and Cisco. Here is a brief synopsis of some of the recent IP telephony announcements by Nortel, as well as their future strategy.

Since February of this year, Nortel has been extremely busy rolling out and announcing new products that converge voice and data networks. Almost out of nowhere, Nortel announced an alliance with British Telecom to provide the world’s largest Internet telephony network in Spain. The announcement went on to state that Nortel plans on being a major player in the Internet telephony market — regardless of delivery mechanism…wireless, wireline, or cable.

The heart of the announcement is a product called IPConnect , which is targeted at next-generation service providers that need to provide full-featured, PSTN-grade telephony over multi-service IP networks. IPConnect aims to maintain the integrity, quality, manageability, scalability, and reliability of the PSTN network, and yet take advantage of the cost efficiency, open standards, and reduced time to market promised by IP telephony networks. The service will be offered over a high-speed optical network connected to around 75 of Nortel’s Java-controlled CVX 1800 access switches, the majority of which will be installed in the next 24 months.

Prior to this announcement, Nortel announced their Succession Network — a network that enables providers to offer the revenue-generating telephony services that drive the bulk of their business today, and the new end-to-end IP services that the market is demanding. Succession does this without the need or expense of a data overlay network. In addition, Nortel says that the Succession Network allows service providers to offer converged telephony and data services, while reducing annual operating costs by up to 45 percent, and capital costs by up to 50 percent over traditional telephony solutions. Succession also takes into account the need to provide existing enhanced services, and as such, allows three-way calling and caller ID on a single or multi-service packet network.

Furthermore, Nortel, through its Arris Interactive joint venture with ANTEC , is also developing cable telephony products and claims to have shipped more Arris Interactive Cornerstone Voice cable telephony solutions than any other competitive cable telephony products worldwide. Nortel’s goal is to eventually allow these cable modems to support IP telephony.

I recently had a chance to talk to Nortel about their vision of the future of Internet telephony. Nortel believes that we’re moving toward converged networks based on IP. They further believe that customers should have choices as to how quickly they want to evolve their networks. They should be able to do it on their terms, not on the vendors’ terms. Unless they want to, customers should not have to throw out everything they have and start over — the green fields approach.

Nortel’s approach is to provide a wide range of choices. If a customer wants to build an IP-based network from scratch, they can assist. If a customer wants to IP-enable an existing voice network, they can also help. If a customer wants to voice-enable an existing data network, they can help.

Furthermore, through the use of Nortel’s Optivity management suite, they feel they are best positioned to offer IP telephony plumbing as well as  a rich suite of applications. Some of  the Optivity family members include Optivity Analysis, which delivers advanced traffic monitoring throughout enterprise environments across hubs, routers, Layer 2, and Layer 3 switches. Another family member is Optivity Service Level Management, allowing network managers to optimize their networks for business-critical applications by measuring service levels —either per user, per port, or per application.

The future of Nortel’s strategy is to telephony-enable their data products and IP-enable their voice products. By the time you read this, the company will have announced details on a full range of products that will be rolled out over the next three quarters or so relating to Internet telephony.

As you have no doubt read in our sister TMC publication CTI magazine, Nortel has released a few Internet telephony products already, such as an integrated IP telephony gateway for Meridian 1, and the laptop-based converged voice/data IP Telecommuter.

The following announcements are expected to become products in the latter part of 1999:


  • IP-enabling the Meridian SL-100 and MC6500/Mercator communication systems.
  • A Windows NT-based communication system that combines full telephony features with the BayStack LAN product. This would give the customer the ability to use circuit switching, packet switching, or both.
  • A multi-user, remote-office solution that extends digital telephones over IP networks.
  • Addition of voice-over-IP (VoIP) capability to the existing HomeOffice II product.
  • The initial stages of evolving Optivity to manage both data networks from Nortel and other vendors (which it currently does), AND Meridian 1, SL-100, and Norstar systems.
  • A client/server-based user interface for performing daily system management on the Meridian SL-100 to improve efficiency and response times.
  • A new release of the Symposium Agent browser-based call center.
  • Software designed to enhance agent productivity.


  • A platform-independent, Windows NT-based system that consolidates telephony intelligence, complex call-connection management, and standard protocol support over existing IP networks.
  • VoIP enhancements to the Passport line of enterprise switches.
  • A new member of the Passport family for voice and data consolidation in regional and branch applications.

Finally, by the year 2000, Nortel plans on delivering Internet phones competitive to the Cisco/Selsius phones.

Nortel was the last holdout in the Internet telephony market. Understandably, when you purchase Bay Networks, a $9 billion networking company, it takes some time before you can roll out an integrated suite of converged voice/data products. We welcome Nortel to the future of telecommunications — one based on packetized Internet telephony networks.

CTI EXPO: The Best Place To Learn About
IP Telephony… Bar None. Attendance Tops 16,000!

Having recently come from the latest CTI EXPO™ in DC, I can tell you unequivocally that the interest in voice and data convergence is at frenzied levels. The best indicator may be the fact that attendance and exhibit space has doubled from the first-ever CTI EXPO™ in Baltimore only one year earlier. In fact, over 16,000 attendees came to CTI EXPO™ in just two days of exhibits!
Having attended industry trade shows in telecom and datacom for years, I have never seen the interest in information that attendees displayed recently at CTI EXPO™. Cisco, Nortel, Lucent, Microsoft, and IBM had mob scenes at their booths…. Attendees included a good mix of resellers, end users, service providers, and call center decision makers — all trying to absorb the latest in convergence technology and learn how they can benefit from the merging of once disparate voice and data networks.

In fact, CTI EXPO™ just may have been the busiest show I have attended all year — and I attend dozens of datacom and telecom events annually! We have already received many testimonials from attendees, conferees, and exhibitors, which we have posted at www.ctiexpo.com/testimonials.

Amazingly, not only was there a tremendous amount of interest in traditional convergence, telecom, and Internet telephony exhibitors, but call center exhibitors were mobbed as well. CTI EXPO™ has become the largest call center event by far in just one short year!

In fact, perhaps the largest consistent crowds I have ever seen at any booth at any show were the ones I witnessed at the live multimedia blended call center co-sponsored by CellIT and TMC, as well as CellIt’s own booth. In two days, over 1,000 attendees went through CellIt’s booth alone! Amazingly enough, CellIT had 13 agents continuously calling attendees and inviting them to the show. In two days, these agents made and took more than 11,000 phone calls. Even more incredibly, the call center was absolutely stunning in appearance. CellIT and their partners deserve a great deal of credit for putting together this state-of-the-art call center in a matter of hours. Many call centers with legacy equipment take months to get up and running with less functionality than CellIt’s multimedia center. They should be commended for their tremendous efforts, and all other call center vendors better take note of what these guys are on to — there has not been anything like this in the call center market — ever. No single technology in the call center market has generated the interest level I witnessed last week. Amazingly, CellIT had agents transmitting telephony over ATM, and now IP — an announcement they made at CTI EXPO™.

There is no better place in the world to test IP telephony or packetized voice than an active call center. As if a call center environment is not a tough enough environment to test in, the entire demo was done on a trade show floor. Having witnessed trade show demos for years, I can tell you that many vendors can’t even get a demo to work correctly in their booth a single time. CellIT demonstrated 11,000 call completions! Any demo that works on a trade show floor where over 100 factors are not in anyone’s control should work really well in a controlled environment like your office.

If you think you missed the boat by not being at CTI EXPO™ in DC — you are right. Don’t fret though, the demand for the live multimedia call center was so great that we have received many requests from attendees who want us to have another multimedia call center in Las Vegas. We have already started working with CellIT to build an even better, live, multimedia call center for our upcoming CTI EXPO™ in Las Vegas, December 7-9. You won’t want to miss this one — it may be the last time you ever get to see the live call center in action!
At TMC, we are never satisfied. We are always looking for ways to make our events the best in the world. Just as our publications provide you with leading-edge, objective, and in-depth information available nowhere else, we are constantly improving our trade shows as well.

Just one of the many unique features of the next CTI EXPO will be the six brand-new Learning Centers, objectively informing you of the most important and timely voice and data convergence technologies.

CT Media: CT Media is a Micro-soft/Dialogic/ECTF standard that is used to construct a computer-telephony (CT) server. Think of a CT server as roughly analogous to a database server. When a company installs a database server such as Oracle in their organization, many applications can take advantage of the database through open interfaces such as ODBC. CT Media abstracts hardware in the same way that Oracle abstracts the database. In both cases, applications can access core server functions through a variety of function calls. In this Learning Center, you will witness many applications adhering to the CT Media standard and witness the power of truly open telephony.

Development/Testing: Developers have so many options when it comes to building CTI applications — from picking the right DSP resource boards to the right development environment, there is so much to consider. Once you’ve developed your application, you should make sure to test it thoroughly with the latest generation of testing tools from companies like Ameritec and Hammer. This Learning Center will have enough diversity to allow the beginner through expert level developer to get a grasp on the latest development technologies.

Linux Telephony: Linux and open-source software have emerged from cult-like status to become the love of Webmasters and network administrators alike. Linux is the biggest threat to Microsoft’s operating system dominance in years. (For a great article on open source in CTI magazine, please see our March 1999 Horizons article.)  Advantages of open-source software include the fact that armies of programmers worldwide can modify and augment the original source code. In this way, the original product evolves and morphs much more quickly, and becomes more useful than if the software was under a single company’s control. Linux telephony is a relatively new concept, but many vendors are betting that Linux is exactly the OS they need to make their telephony solutions a success.

Next-Gen Call Center Technology: E-commerce without human interaction is like shopping in a department store with no one to help answer your questions. The latest generation of call center and Web integration products succeeds in marrying Web sites to call centers, so that your customers can always opt for a live agent to help them before and during their purchases.

Enhanced Services/Network CTI: This is the newest field for service providers to explore — a field with unlimited new product opportunities that customers need, and service providers can profit from. Internet call waiting, Web-based unified messaging, follow-me services, and broadcast Internet fax are just a few of the next generation of IP-based enhanced services we can all look forward to using.
Wireless CTI: Palm-based computers will eventually merge with cell phones, and IP will be the universal wireless networking standard. In addition to telephony, IP wireless devices will allow you to have access to e-mail, the Web, GPS, the latest stock market developments, a database of contacts, and myriad other features currently available only on our desktops. Come see how far wireless CTI technology has come and where it is headed.

We have so many new things to introduce at CTI EXPO™ in Las Vegas, December 7-9, that I can’t even begin to cover all of them here. Please sign up for the show for free today at www.ctiexpo.com and save $25. Once you have done so, we will make sure to keep you posted, via e-mail, on the latest developments as they happen. For further information, you can always visit our Web site at www.ctiexpo.com for the details.

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