Alex Constantine - July 13, 2007
Nortel CEO to advise Bush on security issues
Toronto Star, July 12, 2007
The man who has become known to the telecom industry as Mike Z. will be advising George W. on issues of national security.
Mike Zafirovski, the chief executive of Nortel Networks Corp. (TSX: NT) is joining a panel that provides technical advice on national security issues to President George W. Bush.
The Toronto-based telecommunications equipment maker has long counted the U.S. government and American phone companies among its biggest customers.
Nortel's board of directors, from time to time, has also included a number of high-ranking members of the American defence and security community.
Former Nortel chief executive Bill Owens, for instance, was had a distinguished career as an admiral in the U.S. Navy, serving during the first Persian Gulf War.
On Thursday, Nortel announced that Zafirovski – who joined the Canadian telecom company in late 2005 after five years at cellphone giant Motorola Corp. and 20 years at General Electric – has been appointed to the U.S. National Security Telecommunications Advisory Committee by Bush.
The committee advises the president of technical issues and other national systems security.
"I am very proud of this honour and look forward to contributing to this important committee and serving the president during what will be a critical new era for technology and communications," Zafirovski said.
"The rate of technology innovation promises to surpass that of any other time in recent history. We are entering a hyperconnected era that will not only transform the way people interact, but enable work, education and social interaction across all corners of the planet."
Zafirovski took over at Nortel in 2005, succeeding former U.S. admiral Bill Owens, who was once the second-highest ranking military officer in the United States.
Nortel also announced Thursday that it has won a $150-million (U.S.) multi-year extension to its contract with T-Mobile USA for mobile voice and data services.
Through the deal, Nortel will upgrade T-Mobile's GSM infrastructure equipment and services to increase its network capacity.
T-Mobile USA is a subsidiary of T-Mobile International, owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, and has about 26 million subscribers.
"T-Mobile USA's previous deployments with Nortel enabled us to support more subscribers with a marked improvement in network performance, capacity and call quality," said Neville Ray, senior vice-president of engineering operations at T-Mobile USA.
Nortel closed Thursday at $24.72, up 28 cents, at the Toronto Stock Exchange.