By Will Garside
Telecommunications expert Nortel Networks is to launch a networking division aimed at introducing optical fibre to the local loop in a move that marks its departure from traditional telephony.
The Personal Internet division, which will be officially launched at the end of the month, intends to supply fibre solutions to the home, small businesses and ISPs. The move coincides with Nortel's announcement that it will shed 4000 staff in more traditional areas of its business, through natural wastage.
A Nortel spokesman said the move was designed "to reflect the needs of our customers who are saying that optical and wireless are their two biggest growth areas". He added, "Traditional phone switching solutions are important to the company but the market is moving towards more IP based solutions."
Iain Stevenson, research director for Next Generation Networks at Ovum commented, "The cost of laying fibre to the home is very high, what we'll initially see is fibre going to high value customers or where the existing copper infrastructure is poor or non existent". He added, "Fibre to the home is at least three years away from the mass market."
"The good thing about Nortel is that they're great innovators, although they are sometimes a bit off the beam in term of the market" Stevenson added.