Nortel’s 4G Campaign

| About: Nortel Networks (NT)

I’m always fascinated by corporate marketing spin jobs where companies blatantly attempt to position themselves to take advantage of emerging markets with fertile growth potential. For Nortel (NT), these campaigns have gone back forth between 4G, IP-TV and VoIP in recent months.

These days, 4G has become the cat’s meow. In preparation for the 3GSM conference, Nortel put out a a press release touting the “4G Lifestyle”. Yesterday, an interview of Nortel CTO John Roese by ZDNet’s Tom Foremski is another part of the 4G “message” that Nortel wants to deliver to the world. In the interview, Roese said 4G is a radical new business strategy in which Nortel is betting carriers will want to offer higher-speed wireless networks so they can deliver a better Web experience (video, IP-TV) to consumers.

“We realized that for Nortel to be successful, we had to get totally behind 4G,” Roese said. “That’s why we have been selling our older lines of business. We call it our burn the boats strategy. It is what Alexander the Great did when his army crossed into Asia; there is no going back.”

Either Roese is showing off his historical knowledge by citing Alexander the Great, and/or he’s doing some serious playing up to Nortel CEO Mike Zafirovski, who just happens to be Macedonian - just like Alexander the Great. Either way, Nortel has put a lot of chips behind a market where it’s not seen as a leading or dominant player. It’s a huge strategic gamble but perhaps one Nortel has no choice to make if it wants to avoid becoming a second-tier player in the telecom equipment market.