Nortel is set to be resurrected in part as IT repair firm Comtek moves into its old Belfast base in order to expand its support for the fallen giant's wares.
Comtek, whose other European bases are in North Wales, Reading, Frankfurt and Amsterdam, is on the hunt for former Nortel engineers to join its new Northern Irish branch, which it claims has not changed much since it was closed in 2010, right down to it containing the same Nortel-branded furniture.
The former telecoms giant's old hub held about 5,000 staff and was its global research and development base, but Comtek has taken over a small portion of the premises from which it will operate. It has currently hired seven ex-Nortel staff – including former Nortel managing director John Freebairn – but is aiming to bring that figure to 20 in the coming months, and much higher in the future.
Freebairn will lead the Northern Irish expansion and Comtek's founder Askar Sheibani told CRN that his experience means he is well prepared for the role. He added that his company has expanded much faster than he expected due to a flurry of overseas business wins.
In 2009, Nortel sold its enterprise arm to Avaya for $475m (£311m) and its wireless unit to Ericsson for $1.13bn. Sheibani added that while the firms that took over those businesses do support customers, it was not a long-term fix for those left in the lurch.
"The initial business plan [of the companies that bought Nortel] was to use Nortel customers – to essentially buy them – and then to integrate them into their [own] portfolios. Therefore, the initial intention was not to support ex-Nortel customers indefinitely – only in the short term," he said.
"The main objective was to encourage them to move from Nortel on to their own [technology], but we are different. You can keep your Nortel infrastructure, you do not have to scrap or move to another product – if you're happy, we support you. Some of our individuals have worked with Nortel for over 30 years, they know the products inside out."
Comtek's expansion into Northern Ireland forms only a part of the firm's overall growth plans, which Sheibani claimed are being fuelled by increased end-user focus on both cost savings and corporate responsibility.
"There are enormous cost savings [associated with us]. When telecoms firms invest in infrastructure... they spend hundreds of millions of pounds so when they want to migrate, the cost implication is incredibly high," he said, explaining that by having products repaired or buying them as-new, customers avoid the pitfalls of having to migrate whenever a vendor decides to cease supporting a certain product.
The growing emphasis put on green issues and corporate responsibility is also encouraging customers to look at repaired options instead of buying brand new replacement technology – further enhancing his business, he claimed.
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