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Nortel bankruptcy: Timeline of a hard fall

The century-old Canadian telecom equipment maker announced last week further sales of its assets, killing off what little hope remained for the company's resuscitation. Trace back Nortel's rocky road to collapse, from the recent sale of its CDMA/LTE business to filing for bankruptcy in early 2009 to its launch from Northern Telecom a dozen years ago.

Farewell, Nortel. The century-old Canadian telecom equipment maker announced last week further sales of its assets, killing off what little hope remained for the company's resuscitation. Trace back Nortel's rocky road to collapse, from the recent sale of its CDMA/LTE business to filing for bankruptcy in early 2009 to its launch from Northern Telecom a dozen years ago.


  • August 12, 2009:  What the Avaya-Nortel news means for voice customers -- It came as no surprise when Avaya made a $475 million bid for Nortel's enterprise division. But what does this possible Avaya-Nortel deal mean for Nortel's voice customers? In this podcast, our news writer discusses how customers might need to alter their purchasing cycles and wait to see what products will continue to be sold through the new Avaya-Nortel body.


  • August 10, 2009: The new Nortel: Will LTE patents revive Nortel? -- Nortel has lost the battle, but has it lost the war? This 127-year-old company may have yet another card up its proverbial sleeve: patents. Nortel has approximately 5,500 LTE patents that it could use to generate royalties and/or create and develop new 4G applications.


  • August 4, 2009: RIM's Nortel interest adds more drama to 'final' bid -- Why on earth would RIM want Nortel? That was the question on everyone's minds after the handset manufacturer announced it had not only tried to enter bidding for the distressed Nortel's LTE and CDMA assets, but had been "prevented" from fairly competing for those assets due to bidding restrictions. While Ericsson eventually emerged victorious in bidding, industry watchers were left scratching their heads, and legislators seem to at least be considering the merits of RIM's complaint. What if the Waterloo-based BlackBerry maker was successful in a re-auction and it won?


  • July 2, 2009: Nortel's data networking chief discusses the future -- John McHugh, Nortel's vice president for data solutions, defends his company's data networking business and discusses its future in this Q&A.

    Are my Nortel certifications obsolete?
    Are Nortel certifications obsolete now that the company is bankrupt? Read the responses of two certification experts -- or contribute to the discussion -- in the ITKnowledge Exchange.
  • June 25, 2009: Nokia Siemens bid for Nortel's CDMA, LTE wireless assets could pay off -- With the spoils of the Nortel bankruptcy, Nokia Siemens could leverage its existing core network equipment relationships and convince carriers to go with it for next-generation network rollouts. At the very least, it will pick up Nortel's CDMA service contracts with these providers over the next several years. The company could see a tidy profit for years to come from both next-generation and last-generation wireless networks.


  • June 24, 2009: Nortel partners have a lot of explaining to do to calm customers -- The bankrupt company has offered no details about service contracts or product commitments post-acquisition. At this point, with Nortel unable to make any promises, partners will have to calm nervous customers by emphasizing their own stability.


  • June 23, 2009: Nortel routers and switches may go to buyer of telephony business -- With all of Nortel Networks now up for sale, customers of Nortel's enterprise switches and routers are likely to find themselves swept up in a larger deal for Nortel's telephony and unified communications business.


  • June 22, 2009: Nortel partners might be a hot commodity -- Nortel competitors, such as Avaya, have been aggressively recruiting Nortel partners in recent months, and you can expect that recruitment to ratchet up, especially if one of Nortel's competitors acquires a Nortel business unit. Also, Nortel sends a letter to its enterprise customers, informing them that it will sell its other businesses to third parties. Nortel said it would try to restructure remaining pieces of the company only if it is "unable to maximize value through sales." Meanwhile, time may not be on Nortel's side as it attempts to save or sell off its WAN optimization business.


  • June 19, 2009: Nortel announced that it sold its wireless carrier infrastructure division at a bargain basement price and admitted that it will sell off its remaining assets. It is likely that Avaya or Siemens-Enterasys will bid for Nortel's UC business because they want the customer base.


  • Feb. 23, 2009: Radware makes deal for Nortel's application delivery business -- Israeli application delivery networking vendor, Radware, announced it would buy Nortel's application delivery switching business (basically the assets of Alteon WebSystems, a company it purchased nine years prior) for an undisclosed sum. The following week, the Ottawa Citizen published the numbers, based on a filing in U.S. bankruptcy court: Radware would pay Nortel less than 3% of what Nortel originally paid for Alteon.


  • Jan. 28, 2009: Aruba courts Nortel customers with multivendor WLAN management suite -- Aruba joined the growing ring of vultures circling above Nortel Networks' Toronto headquarters when they announced an "investment protection" program for customers of Nortel wireless LAN (WLAN) technology, offering Nortel customers a discount on Aruba's AirWave Wireless Management Suite.


  • Jan. 22, 2009: Rivals of bankrupt Nortel to poach networking customers aggressively -- Analysts predicted that Nortel customers should expect vendors such as Cisco Systems and HP ProCurve to target them aggressively with special offers to capitalize on Nortel's bankruptcy.


  • Jan. 15, 2009: Nortel's choice -- Channel partners demand that Nortel shed its carrier division and focus in on enterprise technology. The problem is that carrier customers say they don't want to leave. What's a beleaguered company to do?


  • Jan. 15, 2009: Nortel bankrupt: Now what? --Unhappy Nortel loyalists are now looking to the future and what it holds for their beloved telecom giant. They want to know: Where do we go from here?


  • Jan. 14, 2009: Nortel comes crashing down -- Though no surprise to us, the day we thought might happen finally did. Like the starship Enterprise at the end of Star Trek III, Nortel finally crashed and burned, leaving only charred wreckage behind. The question remains: Can the charred wreckage be rebuilt into a new ship?


  • Dec. 23, 2008: Nortel for sale -- maybe -- Everyone from China's Huawei Technologies to Cisco Systems is rumored to be eyeing Nortel's MEN unit. Analysts fear that if Nortel doesn't move quickly enough, there will be no deals left.


  • Dec. 18, 2008: Partners to Nortel: Grow up! -- Nortel channel partners are loyal, but not silly. They demand that the company make some quick changes to stay viable -- namely, shed the carrier unit.


  • Dec. 5, 2008: Is there anyone not trying to steal Nortel's partners? -- With Nortel looking as if it's in ruins, other channel vendors aggressively move in on Nortel channel partners, following in Juniper's footsteps. It's like watching bullies gang up on the nerd with the broken glasses, trying to steal his milk money.


  • Dec. 3, 2008: Juniper attacks Nortel channel with attempts at channel takeover -- Juniper decides to kick Nortel when it's down by trying to poach channel partners with a not-so-subtle letter campaign.


  • Nov. 11, 2008: Nortel in too deep; analysts say sale coming -- Analysts see no alternatives. Nortel is in bigger trouble than some suspected, reporting a $3.41 billion loss in the third quarter and slashing 1,300 jobs. What else is there to do other than put the company up for sale? Apparently, file for bankruptcy.


  • Sept. 19, 2008: Partners stay calm as Nortel contemplates selling Metro Ethernet -- CEO Mike Zafirovsky says the company will sell its Metro Ethernet Networks (MEN) unit to offset losses.


  • Sept. 4, 2008: Will IBM acquire Nortel? -- We weren't exactly right about this one either, but every rumor is based on some fact, and low share values fed this one. We knew something had to give, whether a Nortel acquisition or a Nortel bankruptcy.


  • July 2, 2008: Will Microsoft acquire Nortel? -- While it had been long rumored that networking rival Cisco Systems would acquire Nortel's carrier business, this time around pundits wondered whether unified communications allies like Microsoft or IBM would swoop in for an acquisition. In fact, one channel partner told SearchITChannel that a Microsoft-Nortel acquisition would be a "no-brainer." We were wrong about this prediction, as the VAR Guy was eager to point out. But we knew early that change was imminent.


  • 2008: It became apparent that Nortel's bad fortune wouldn't turn around anytime soon. Share prices sank below $10, and channel partners speculated that someone would buy the troubled company.


  • 2004 - 2007: With a major accounting scandal in 2004 and a handful of restructurings and massive layoffs since, Nortel hasn't been able to establish a solid footing. The last thing the company could withstand was yet another recession.


  • 2001: In the technology downturn, Nortel's shares -- which traded at a high of $124 Canadian in 2000 -- fell 50%.


  • 1998: Nortel was on rocky ground almost since it morphed from Northern Telecom (the century-old company spun off from Bell Telephone Company of Canada) to Nortel Networks. Nortel's goal was to become one of the first providers of converged voice and data networking equipment, so it immediately swept up Bay Networks and Alteon WebSystems for more than $15 billion. But Nortel didn't move quickly enough to integrate the new technologies into its legacy business.


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