Nortel Networks: How Innovation and Vision Created a Network Giant

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9780471645429: Nortel Networks: How Innovation and Vision Created a Network Giant

Praise for Nortel Networks How Innovations and Vision Created a Network Giant "Nortel rising from Canadian industrial age corporation to a global network powerhouse is a fabulous story of determination and foresight, and new business modal innovation. MacDonald shows why Nortel will remain pre-eminent in the brutally competitive digital economy." -Don Tapscott, Chair, Digital 4Sight, and Author of Paradigm Shift, The Digital Economy, Growing Up Digital, and Digital Capital: Harnessing the Power of Business Webs "Few companies are changing the world today. Nortel is one of them-and has been for generations. This is a human adventure of corporate renewal-about visionary leaders who transform today's success into tomorrow's innovation." - E. F. Peter Newson, Associate Professor, Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario "MacDonald's book fills a critical gap in the history of Canadian telecommunications. His Nortel Networks is a valuable and extremely readable chronicle of the remarkable transformation of a sleepy telephone manufacturer into Canada's most valuable corporation." -Lawrence Surtees, research analyst, IDC Canada Ltd., and former telecommunications reporter. The Globe and Mail Visit Our Companion Website at www.wiley.com/canada/nortelnetworks

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Review:

Bang, bang: welcome to the culture of speed. Blur the Canadian origins. Ramp up international sales, especially to the U.S. Establish useful corporate alliances. Out go sluggish and dated product lines. Bye bye, redundant employees. Whoosh, grab companies with useful technologies like Bay Networks. Oops, down goes the stock price. Pull back, holding your breath. That's the story of Canada's Nortel Networks in a nutshell. More comprehensive detail about how Nortel established the groundwork for Internet-based corporate networks on wireless communications and fiber-optics connections is offered in Larry MacDonald's Nortel Networks: How Innovation and Vision Created a Network Giant.

Nortel started out in the late 19th century as the telephone-manufacturing arm of Bell Canada, originally building telephones based on the designs of a leading U.S. telecom manufacturer, Western Electric Co. For a time it also produced a host of consumer electrical products like fire alarms and radios, and served as a major supplier for the Canadian military during WW II. But by the late 1960s, Nortel began exploring digital telephone switches, long before other telecommunications companies, including U.S. behemoth AT&T, which became its eventual customer. In 2000, Nortel was spun off as an independent corporation by its parent company.

MacDonald, a technology writer for various newspapers, including the Ottawa Citizen and the Financial Post, and a former Canadian federal government economist, ably documents Nortel's history with a mixture of reportage and analysis. He calls the government's sanctioning of Nortel's monopolistic position as the preferred supplier for Bell Canada "a covert industrial policy"--one that allowed the company to grow into the international player that it is. What's in store for the future? MacDonald speculates that Nortel and its California-based competitor Cisco Systems will join forces. But then who would want to risk a bet on any predictions in the topsy-turvy world of technology? --Paul Weinberg

From the Inside Flap:

Nortel Networks Nortel Networks is one of the companies at the heart of the Internet revolution. One of the biggest stories now unfolding is the fierce rivalry of three titans to construct and expand the networks of the future. Nortel, Cisco, and Lucent are all racing to meet the exponential growth in Internet use and to satisfy the insatiable demand for bandwidth to handle the tidal wave of Internet traffic. The company that got its start in 1895 as the manufacturing arm of Bell Telephone of Canada-just shortly after the invention of the telephone itself-has become a world leader in the hugely competitive telecommunications industry. In the Internet age, as voice and data converge, Nortel has transformed itself from a hardware manufacturer into a new-economy powerhouse built more on software, wireless technology, and fiber optics. No company over 100 years old is without its ups and downs. And Nortel is no exception. Nortel Networks: How Innovation and Vision Created a Network Giant recounts the drama of a technology company that has survived two World Wars, the Great Depression, and numerous recessions. The cast of characters is full of fascinating people who worked together to build a corporate empire-CEOs that steered Nortel perilously close to the rocks of ruin, and leaders that gave the company the vision that allowed it to soar to new heights; dedicated scientists and engineers who drove the innovations that have kept Nortel at the front of the pack; politicians and regulators with their own agendas; contacts and customers around the globe that each had a role to play in the Nortel story. Over its long history, Nortel has gone through several corporate shake-ups. These frequent transformations have kept the company lean and focused, a battle-hardened veteran well prepared to deal with turbulence and confrontation. In fact, it is out of disruption and discontinuities in markets, products, and technologies that Nortel has emerged triumphant many times over. They have been what Nortel looks for in order to survive and gain position. The legacy is an entrenched culture of change, speed, and innovation. Whether through in-house research and development, or through its recent and ongoing frenzy of acquisitions, Nortel continues to produce leading-edge product portfolios at just the right time. From the manually operated telephone switchboards of the 1890s to the digital switches that today direct voice, data, and video traffic on the fiber-optic systems of the Internet, Nortel has been at the forefront of technological innovation for over 100 years. The company's relentless commitment to R&D has enabled it to move from old technology to new technology many times over, in times of crisis and prosperity. Today, Nortel is at the forefront of laying down the information superhighways now revolutionizing the lives of everybody everywhere. Nortel's annual revenues have seen almost uninterrupted growth, going from approximately $200 million in the early 1960s to $22 billion in 1999. In the process, its common shares, first listed in 1973 on the Toronto Stock Exchange (and a few years later on the New York, London, and Tokyo exchanges), have made long-term investors very wealthy. The first ten years of trading, to 1983, brought an appreciation of over 1,000 percent. After a period of drifting in the 1980s, the stock price resumed its upward trend with vigor in the 1990s. The final two years of the decade were especially strong, when the share price quadrupled from the 1998 low. In Nortel Networks, Larry MacDonald brings insight and a strong sense of where the company is headed. He takes the story from the humblest beginnings, right up to the present day, and looks into the future at some of the possible outcomes of Nortel's strategies to become the world leader in the new digital revolution.

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