Siemens and 3Com have struck a deal, worth a potential $1 billion, to integrate voice and data communications and attack the ISDN market.
Under the terms of the agreement, announced today in Munich, the companies will ensure that Siemens' Hicom ISDN telecomms system and 3Com's enterprise data networking products will work together and will extend their existing reseller agreement. The companies will also pool engineering resources and work on jointly developed products for the computer-telephony integration market.
Teams of engineers from both companies will begin work immediately to cooperate on future and existing products, he said. The whole project will be overseen by a team based in Boston, while engineers in Santa Clara, California and Hemel Hempstead, England will also work together.
Siemens will now sell and market the entire range of 3Com data communications worldwide, including Lan and Wan products like Office Connect as well as the Superstack II hub and Etherlink network interface cards (NICs). That, said Dietrich Botsch, group president of Siemens' private communications systems division, was an extension of an existing agreement but will focus on ISDN rather than ATM, and so will not upset current channel arrangements.
Botsch commented: "Universal multimedia communication will only be possible once telephone and data networks, which operate as separate entities, are joined together."
He said the agreement was a "deliberate step" to expand and supplement Siemens' Hicom ISDN comms system, which, he claimed, has 500,000 users in 120 countries around the world with a market share of around 12 per cent.The challenge to integrate voice and telephony could no longer by undertaken by just one company, he added.
Ron Gege, a senior vice president of 3Com's enterprise systems division, said that his company's thinking was that data communication infrastructures will become as ubiquitous as today's telephony systems. "One of our objectives is to gain market share and volume. This is not an exclusive agreement but is directed at those customers who want these solutions. 3Com is not changing its channel strategy at all."
The agreement is likely to bolster 3Com's market position, which is currently being eroded by low cost products from Intel and others, and give it another string to its enterprise level bow.
Sege clarified that about 800 redundancies are expected at 3Com (see yesterday's story) but added that no further job losses are likely after that. He claimed the Siemens-3Com initiative would also lead to new hirings at 3Com.
He said: "We announced that in the next 12 months 800 people will be made redundant. These are not lay-offs but are duplicate jobs and we'll seek to redeploy people within the organisation. Where that is not possible, we'll give generous severance pay."
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