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Nortel Networks: How Innovation and Vision Created a Network Giant Hardcover – October 6, 2000

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Editorial Reviews 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


"MacDonald has managed to pack a complicated corporate history into a readable and informative account of Nortel's past, present and future." (Internet Business, January 2001)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (October 6, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0471645427
  • ISBN-13: 978-0471645429
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.9 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,276,376 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By B.Sudhakar Shenoy on August 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Hello! - The magic word that was adopted as a standard to start a telephonic conversation in 1880. To me it was a surprise that we needed a standard to start a conversation. But then the technologies behind the millions of conversations and communications across the globe have constantly defied standards to create discontinuities at a rapid pace. Today, voice is a small component of the global traffic. Digitization has made it possible to carry Data, Voice and Video at unimaginable speeds - You can shift a large public library from coast to coast within 14 seconds. But this seems to be just the beginning. Amazed? Read on.
The book traces the history of telecommunications from the discovery of the telephone till today's high speed digital transmission through optic fibers. Nortel is at the center stage throughout the book while Cisco and Lucent are seen as its major competitors. The Telecom Industry is thus not a part of the "new economy" and players like Cisco are new players in the old economy Industry. This is what I infer from this book. The secret behind Nortel's success and survival for over hundred years , weathering economic and technological discontinuities seems to be its ability to continuously innovate through investments in R&D and by promoting an entrepreneurial work culture.
Nortel has been "at the right places at the right time"- Enchasing on discontinuities . Cisco is the champion in routing data traffic while Nortel is attempting to use its expertise in telephony and beat Cisco by using a combination of packet and circuit switching.
Also see my review on " Making the Cisco Connection- David Bunnell". I am not willing to take any bet!
A powerful theme lacks the punch of narration. Reads like a text book on telecom history.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert Morris HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Throughout 14 crisp and lucid chapters, MacDonald explains "how innovation and vision created a network giant." First, he provides a brief history of the company and then identifies its key executives, from C.F. Wise, Sr. (president 1895-1913, chairman1914-1917) until Frank Carlucci (chairman, 1999-present). What a colorful history it has been thus far.
My primary interest, however, is in the company today and (especially) in its prospects for the future inthe face of what is certain to be ferocious competition. As MacDonald observes in the Introduction, "Nortel is at the forefront of laying down the information superhighways now revolutionizing the lives of everyone everywhere. Indeed, Nortel has a good-shot at becoming the number one provider of Internet infrastructure...This book, in providing a look at the emergence and prospects for Nortel, is, in part, an introduction to one of the biggest stories now unfolding: the fierce rivalry of three titans [ie Nortel, Cisco Systems, and Lucent Technologies] to construct and expand the networks of the future."
According to MacDonald, one of the main factors in the Nortel's success this far [i.e. when the book was published] has been its ability to capitalize on discontinuities,"those sudden breaks in the environment or the way things are done." For example, the transition from analog to digital telephonesystems, from wired to wireless communications, and from copper-based to fiber-optic transmission systems. Also, the deregulation of the telecommunications industry, allowance of interconnection to the telephone network by the FCC (1971), and then the break-up of the AT&T monopoly.
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By Ex-Dilbert on June 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I worked there from 1985 - 1999. Not one bit surprised. There's bread and butter
DMS-100 software was a mess. Auther should have done more research than read press
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