Nortel edges into small business market

Nortel Networks Enterprise Edge voice/data platform allows small- to medium-sized businesses to use their data networks for voice calls.

The product combines features from Nortel’s Norstar telephony products and Nortel’s BayStack data products.

Ron Westfall, an analyst with consultancy Current Analysis in Sterling Va., said the Enterprise Edge fits nicely into Nortel’s convergence mantra.

“It’s beneficial to Nortel, because it demonstrates they’re leveraging the Bay and Nortel products into one cohesive product that in this case addresses the need of small enterprise users,” he said.

He also noted the Enterprise Edge could be a boon for smaller enterprises that can’t afford to keep both voice and data experts on staff.

The Enterprise Edge consists of a rack mountable unit and an NT server, explained Mark Tharby, Nortel’s vice-president of global product marketing. It supports a voice switch, a router, voice applications, including voice mail and auto attendant, and an integrated voice over IP gateway.

The box can support up to 50 voice users and up to 280 data devices.

If users aren’t comfortable combining their voice and data onto one network, they can still support traditional PSTN telephony with the Enterprise Edge, Tharby noted.

Optional add-ons for the Enterprise Edge include Norstar digital phones, IP phones and pre-installed applications optimized for Microsoft NT servers. The applications can be enabled by a key code purchase.

The Enterprise Edge and other recent Nortel initiatives, including new value-added reseller programs, show the firm is getting more serious about the small- to medium-sized market, Westfall said. Until now, he noted, the market has been dominated by Cisco Systems Inc. and 3Com Corp.

The Enterprise Edge is available now and begins listing at US$500 per station for basic communication server capabilities, or at US$615 per station with routing and voice over IP capabilities.

Nortel in Brampton, Ont. can be reached at 1-800-466-7835, or at