Nortel Take IP Communications Line Up A Notch

The bevy of enhanced IP telephony and network infrastructure products come in support of Virtual Enterprise, a new Nortel strategy that aims to improve the way its customers communicate and collaborate.

"It is a collection of some solutions that are coming together that will enable a virtual enterprise so that a remote worker or a mobile worker can be present in the workplace anytime, anywhere, anyhow," said Clent Richardson, vice president of global marketing at Nortel, Brampton, Ontario.

The portfolio update enhances support for Session Initiation Protocol, an emerging call control standard, throughout Nortel's product line.

New products featured in the launch include Communications Server 2100, aimed at large enterprises; the BayStack 5520 Ethernet Switch, a Gigabit switch that includes Power over Ethernet; and two new IP handsets: the midrange Model IP Phone 2006 and the higher-end IP Phone 2007, which includes a full-color display, Bluetooth compatibility and USB peripheral support.

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Nortel is also upgrading its core VoIP products to include tighter integration between release 4.0 of its Communications Server 1000 call server software and its Multimedia Communications Server (MCS) 5100, release 3.0. The MCS upgrade adds multipoint videoconferencing capabilities, new instant messaging features and Web application collaboration. An upgrade to the operating system of Nortel's Alteon application switches adds SIP load balancing.

The Virtual Enterprise initiative capitalizes on Nortel's strategy to incorporate standards and interoperate with competing vendors' products, a result of its extensive research and development efforts, said Stuart Chandler, president and CEO of Optivor Technologies, a solution provider in Jessup, Md. "Cisco [Systems] has offerings in these areas, but Cisco's not anywhere close to Nortel when it comes to openness and interoperability with other manufacturers," Chandler said.

The new BayStack switch is slated for general availability in November starting at $5,995. The other new products are slated to begin shipping throughout the fall.