Bell and Nortel to open joint R&D centre in Ottawa

Guest Contributor
September 16, 2003

Bell Canada and Nortel Networks Corp have entered into a joint R&D initiative as part of a comprehensive agreement to develop Internet protocol (IP) applications and services for what’s being called a Next Generation Network. Bell is spending $200 million over three years on Nortel technology and will establish a joint Innovation Centre in Ottawa that will initially focus on new voice and multimedia applications over wire and wireless facilities.

Bell is betting that IP telephony will have the same revolutionary impact as the Internet has had over the past decade. IP equipment combines voice, video and data on a single network as well as simplifying and lowering the cost of video conferencing and other multimedia applications. The fruits of the collaboration will be shared with Aliant in Atlantic Canada and Bell West in Western Canada. Both are majority owned by Bell Canada.

In addition to creating new IP-based services, the Innovation Centre will also work with third-party developers in what a Bell spokesperson described as “an ecosystem with an atmosphere of sharing, learning and co-development”.

All development will take an open-standards approach as part of Bell’s strategy to capture and maintain leadership in IP telephony. Bell is one of the first major North American telcos to launch such an ambitious IP telephony program.

The new Centre complements and extends the work currently conducted at Bell’s iTechCentre, established in 2001 at a cost of $50 million to test new IP-based technologies and services.

Bell and Nortel go back together several decades when they shared common ownership and Nortel was Bell’s exclusive technology and equipment supplier. Some observers are even dubbing the new research centre as the new BNR, in reference to Nortel’s predecessor, BellNorthern Research.

With this latest collaboration, Nortel’s Multimedia Communication Server will be central to Bell’s service plans. It leverages an open, standards-based architecture so that service providers can offer a variety of advanced applications to customers. An initial commercial service is planned for mid-2004.


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