Nortel to offer bundled IP telephony systems

Nortel Networks Corp. last week unveiled a new IP telephony (IPT) initiative that offers standard packages of hardware and software that promise to cut customers' upfront costs by up to 30 percent.

The IPT 1-2-3 program aims to simplify the purchase process for large North American companies in order to stimulate upgrades from traditional telephony offerings to IP-based systems, said Nortel officials.

Jay Lassman, an analyst at Gartner Inc. in Stamford, Conn., said the program could give Nortel a much-needed boost as it tries to spur lagging IP telephony sales. "Nortel has given such attractive prices on [traditional circuit-switched gear] versus IPT that they've really lost ground in that IPT space as a result," he said.

One longtime Nortel customer, T.R. Bowlin, infrastructure manager at Power Engineers Inc. in Hailey, Idaho, was briefed on the new program. He said it can help corporations gradually upgrade telephony systems, making the process easier than replacing all of the older systems at once.

"I've found with Nortel, you don't have to do a forklift upgrade and completely turn over your network to a vendor to do voice over IP," said Bowlin. "A lot of firms want to do what we did, which is do VOIP over time, and my understanding is that's how IPT 1-2-3 will work."

Power Engineers, a diversified engineering firm, has about 300 Nortel IP phones, another 400 circuit-switched phones and related IP switching gear at 18 domestic and three foreign offices.