Rumor du Jour: Nortspace?

Try and keep under it your fedora (or menorah) but the daily rumor doing the rounds of the small but imperfectly formed wireless LAN switch market today is that Canuck incumbent Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) is to soon announce a partnership deal with startup Airespace Inc.

It is a rumor on which both companies have poured cold water.

Unstrung heard from three wireless LAN whisperers that Nortel is planning to rebadge Airespace equipment and add the kit to its own 802.11 product lineup (see Nortel 'Reveals' WLAN Offerings for more on Nortel's current boxes, eh?). One anonymous source was more specific, saying that within the next two to three weeks [ed. note: not all that specific, then] Nortel plans to OEM the Airespace 4100 appliance and the 1200 access points that work in conjunction with that security and management box (see Airespace Adds an Appliance).

For its part, Nortel denies that an agreement is in place with Airespace. "We don't have an OEM agreement with Airespace," says Pat Cooper, PR manager for enterprise networks at Nortel.

Airespace had no comment on a Nortel hookup either. "There really is nothing to talk about on this front," wrote the normally garrulous VP of marketing for the startup, Alan Cohen, in an email reply to questions.

And the rumor caused at least one industry analyst to clam up tighter than a Scottie's arse [ed. note: uh, Dan, think you mean "Scotsman's purse"] when Unstrung popped the question. "I really can't talk about that at all," he repeated several times before scampering off.

Curiouser and curiouser, though one explanation might be that Nortel and Airespace were talking about a deal at some point and it fell through.

— Dan "Slow News Day" Jones, Senior Editor, Unstrung

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