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Nortel Q&A: We're focused on 're-creating a great company'

At this week's INNUA user conference, Nortel spokesperson Ann Fuller rallied execs to answer key questions for News Editor Amanda Mitchell about its VoIP push and its rocky past.

Q. In hearing about Nortel's promise to get products out on time, I would like to hear a specific statement about the problems in the past and what specifically will be done to remedy them.

A. As part of the Business Transformation Strategy that CEO Mike Zafirovski has outlined for the company, Nortel has identified six key initiatives. The R&D Effectiveness initiative, lead by Mike Langlois, focuses on driving increased quality, predictability and effectiveness in Nortel's R&D processes, platforms and tools. Part of this includes increased re-use at the component and platform level, which will enable Nortel to make some products more cost-effectively and improve time-to-market for future product development.

Q. Nortel has financial problems regarding financial restatements. What is Nortel's specific response to this, to restore confidence to its user base, which was obviously shaken by that event?

Read more about Nortel's 2006 VoIP, corporate strategy
A. Despite the financial restatements, Nortel has remained focused on its business transformation plan and on re-creating a great company. We have an incredibly loyal customer base and we are focused on delivering increased value to them and quality products. In a recent call with financial analysts, Mike Zafirovski talked about how he has met with hundreds of customers around the world and found the reception to be very warm, and expectations very high that Nortel will continue to innovate.

We are very thankful for our loyal customers -- they are one of our strongest assets. And we continue to take steps to serve them better.

Q. A set of data products were announced as discontinued a few months ago, yet those specific products have yet to be identified. Is Nortel ready to be more specific and, if so, what are the products? If not, why not?

A. Nortel has not released specific details about which six products the company plans to discontinue. However, we will communicate product strategies and roadmaps to customers as product decisions are made. Our customers' success is our first priority, and Nortel will ensure that customers who may be affected by these decisions are fully supported during any product transition. Having a transition plan is important, so Nortel is having one-on-one discussions with customers. Customers come first, so that is our focus here.

Q. In yesterday's session, the 800-pound gorilla (Cisco) was mentioned in the context of having a complete business line of products that can offer customers one-stop shopping. The response was, "More power to them, sounds like a god box to me. I have never heard of anybody who can do everything. We are going to have one of the most complete end-to-end IPT portfolios in the industry." Can I have the "end to end" details expanded a bit? Does this specifically refer to products announced this week, or are you positioning these new products as complementing previous products? Please explain.

A. Nortel's strategy is to be a leading provider of IP telephony products and applications to the enterprise market, and the clear choice of the data network infrastructure to enable these converged applications.

Today, Nortel offers field-proven, end-to-end IP telephony solutions for organizations of all sizes, from the smallest home/branch offices to the largest multinational enterprises.

Nortel's IP telephony portfolio consists of a wide range of solutions, including the Business Communication Manager, Business Series Terminals, Communication Server 1000, IP phones, the Meridian Communications portfolio, and the Norstar Communications portfolio.

Nortel's enterprise data portfolio consists of a broad range of Ethernet Layer 2/3 switching and routing switches, security and VPN platforms, and Wireless LAN infrastructure, and the recent addition of the Secure Router portfolio gives Nortel a strong offering in the IP secure routing space, which is optimized for the transport and security of real-time voice and multimedia traffic.

Q. Last question: Why would a Nortel user continue to be a Nortel user and not investigate other options -- in particular, those users that you targeted as in need of a fork-lift upgrade in order to implement an IP telephony/VoIP environment?

A. We are in the process of re-creating a great company. We have strong technology in the enterprise -- IP telephony, IVR, secure routers, SIP -- and we will soon have a go-to-market model to accelerate that. But broader than that, the company has a very rich heritage -- a history of innovation and an incredible depth of technology expertise and networking know-how. Our customers want -- and expect -- us to help them innovate. And that is exactly what we will do. We will drive further innovation in areas that our customers truly value.

In the IP telephony market, we have an aggressive new program in place to help our customers migrate at their own pace and at an affordable cost -- and very easily. As part of the IPT 1-2-3 program, Nortel will make it easier for customers to adopt IP telephony by offering standard preconfigured packages that include voice and data components needed for successful IP telephony implementation. One of the greatest benefits of voice and data convergence is the ability to deploy new multimedia applications, as well as reduced network costs. As part of IPT 1-2-3, Nortel is offering customers high-value incentive and migration upgrade programs for unified messaging, self-service and contact center solutions. Enterprises can more cost-effectively deliver a breakthrough customer experience as they leverage new applications and technology to create a proactive relationship with customers versus a reactive one.

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