Northern Telecom Ltd’s new Cogent consultancy business (CI No 2,764) will build on NorTel World Trade Business Services and will advise companies at the strategy stage and offer: prime contracting and design; build and operations management; network integration and management services for private networks in the public sector; and communications systems integration for command and control in defence applications. All types of communications service – including data networks, fixed telecommunications networks, and mobile networks – will come within its portfolio. Brian Gowers, managing director of Cogent, is at pains to stress that Cogent will be independent from Northern Telecom and that NorTel equipment will not be favoured when Cogent is analysing carriers’ needs. However, he admitted that overcoming customers’ and equipment suppliers’ reservations about Cogent’s links with its parent is our big issue. Customers’ fears, he said, are that they will not get objective advice from a company which is owned by a potential supplier, while for other manufacturers there is a natural reluctance to give detailed information to a company that has historically been a rival, he said. On network planning, Gowers said Cogent will be coming up against the likes of Andersen Consulting, but on the network installation side, it will also try to take business from equipment manufacturers – another reason why they may be reluctant to deal with Cogent. Traditionally, said Gowers, companies such as Alcatel Alsthom SA, Northern Telecom itself, and L M Ericsson Telefon AB, have offered turnkey systems, but part of Cogent’s mission is to persuade customers that it makes more sense for them to have the company that planned the network also implementing it. The company will not have headquarters as such; Gowers will be based at NorTel’s existing office in Maidenhead, Berkshire, and while there will definitely be a regional office in Hong Kong, the site of other offices will be dictated by the business that the firm attracts in different areas.