Nortel purchase means speeds

Nortel Networks Corp. announced plans Tuesday to buy integrated access device maker Sonoma Systems Inc. for about $540 million in stock. Brampton, Ont.-based Nortel has an existing reseller agreement with Sonoma and had announced previously an equity investment in the device maker.

Sonoma Systems, based in Marina del Ray, Calif., provides customer premise devices that integrate high-speed video, data, and voice on a single connection. The devices allow service providers to bring new managed services, such as speedy local Internet access, video services, and Internet telephony, to enterprises.

Sonoma’s access devices already have been bundled with Nortel Passport switches and incorporated into the Universal Edge 600 series. Nortel said it plans to integrate Sonoma Systems products into Nortel’s Optera-Metro fiber-optic line.

“[Sonoma’s equipment] will let us tie the bandwidth and power of the optical Internet to the access technologies in the local Internet to break the bottleneck at the residence and business level,” said Steve Schilling, president of access networks at Nortel.

The combination of Sonoma and Nortel technologies will bring greater sophistication to the carrier managed service area, Schilling added.

“Today most business services are delivered using separate facilities and devices and a variety of quality of service initiatives,” for things like telephone, Internet access and video, Schilling said. “These solutions will let carriers bundle customer service offerings in a platform at speeds of T1 to OC3, which will let carriers offer more quality of service.”

Somoma’s devices will help bring faster connections to businesses by mapping traffic onto a SONet (Synchronous Optical Network) ring, where the traffic is handled by speedy optical technologies, said Ron Westfall, senior analyst at Current Analysis Inc., in Sterling, Va.

Another important benefit of Sonoma’s technology is the capability of converging data and voice services onto a common logical circuit, which can help enterprises bridge separate data and voice networks, Westfall said.

“[Sonoma devices] will allow enterprises to gain efficiency by combining both forms of traffic onto the same equipment for the same service,” Westfall said. “With ATM quality of service capabilities, [businesses] could prioritize voice over data traffic to ensure their overall convergence needs are being met.”