Northern Electric

By | Oct 26, 2009

Last week I was part of the team that put on a Trade Conference of East Coast Nortel Users. Anyone who has been following Nortel will no doubt be aware that the company is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy and the Enterprise Solutions (Telecom) portion of it has been auctioned off. The date for the deal to close is around the 7th of December, 2009.

The Northern Electric and Manufacturing Company Limited was incorporated on December 7, 1895. 93% of the stock was own by Bell Telephone Company of Canada. The remaining 7% was own by the 7 members of the Board of Directors.

In 1913 the company merged with Imperial Wire and Cable Company and was renamed Northern Electric Company.

By the end of the 1960s the company was working on projects to digitize telephone communications as well as selling telephone switching systems not only in Canada, but also the United States. In 1975 they shipped their first digital switch. The company now firmly entrenched in telephone communications was renamed Northern Telecom Ltd. The company concentrated their efforts on digital technology and became one of the biggest, if not the biggest, supplier of digital central office telephone switches to telephone companies throughout the world.

The end of the 20th century brought more changes to the company. Data Communications (Networks and the Internet) was changing the scope of telecommunications. With the purchase of Bay Networks in 1998 the company once again changed their name. This time to their current one, Nortel Networks.

Over the last 8 years until their bankruptcy filing on January 14, 2009 they struggled. Now their future is very much in doubt. After the final purchase by Avaya is approved, what will become of them? Only time will tell. One thing that could occur would be for the combined company (Avaya and Nortel) to be renamed again. Perhaps Northern Electric, or Northern Telecom may come again. Or maybe Avaya will adopt the name Nortel. It’s not impossible. Something similar occurred when the old Ma Bell ATT was purchased by SBC and took the name AT&T. Doesn’t Nortel sound more like a telecommunications company than Avaya?


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