Nortel Sign Removed From Ottawa Complex

The giant Nortel Networks complex in Ottawa, the one that once bustled with 15,000 workers, has gone quiet.

Last week, the Nortel sign was removed, an undertaking that underscores how the once-venerable Canadian tech company has withered into little more than a shell. The Nortel campus has been renamed as Carling Place and the new sign bears the names of the competitors – Avaya Inc., Ciena Corp. (CIEN) and Ericsson (ERIC) – that bought Nortel’s major units at auction.

Fewer than 4,000 employees now roam the halls, occupying just three of 10 laboratories.

One professor, Tyler Chamberlin at Ottawa’s Telfer School of Management, would like to see the government turn the former Nortel campus into a place for startups to gain their footing.

“If we want to see Ottawa continue to be a vibrant and prosperous city, then it really does require the different leaders …to come together and say, ‘ Let’s make investments into Ottawa to see that the future can be as bright as the past’,” he told CBC News.

It’s not yet known whether leaders will act on Chamberlin’s suggestion.

Nortel still owns the Carling Place building but, according to reports, the bankrupt telecom equipment maker soon will sell it. The land around that complex is owned by Canada’s federal government.

Nortel filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2009, succumbing to years of financial woes that continue to reverberate throughout the industry. Thousands of workers have lost their jobs and thousands more pensioners could see their benefits disappear. In the meantime, rivals including Ciena and Ericsson have snapped up valuable Nortel assets for pennies on the dollar and now are integrating those resources into their operations.

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