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IBM, Nortel ring up Net telephony deal

The companies say they will jointly sell a package of hardware, software and services that enable voice messages to be sent over the Internet.

IBM and Nortel Networks on Wednesday announced that they will jointly sell a package of hardware, software and services that enable voice messages to be sent over the Internet.

Under the terms of the deal, IBM's WebSphere infrastructure software and DB2 database software will be incorporated with Nortel's Symposium Contact Center products. IBM said its eServer xSeries systems have already been tested by Nortel and are compatible with its contact center applications.

Financial terms of the multiyear deal were not released. The new products should be available next year, but the companies are not releasing pricing at this time, according to an IBM spokeswoman.

IBM's Global Services division has worked with Nortel before on integrating voice over IP (VoIP) technologies into Nortel products. The technology allows customers to manage voice messages from a computer or make telephone calls using a laptop.

VoIP has been a bright spot for Nortel in tough times recently. The company signed a deal to build a new network for Qwest Communications that will replace Qwest's current circuit-switched network in 14 states and allow VoIP transmissions. Nortel also unveiled new gear designed to provide a bridge between the protocols used to run a phone network and those used to send phone calls via IP traffic.

Nortel could use the new deals; it has been struggling in a difficult telecom market and said last week that sagging demand hurt third-quarter sales. Nortel posted a $3.5 billion loss for the quarter, with sales of $3.7 billion.

IBM, meanwhile, has been crediting strong sales of its WebSphere product as a factor in its financial success and says that the product suite is gaining share in the middleware market. IBM's software revenue was up 14 percent to $3.2 billion in the third quarter, with middleware gaining 18 percent.