Ribbon Communications: Tied to Ottawa

Ribbon Communications counts as its customers “pretty much every communications service provider around the world,” according to Sam Bucci, a veteran tech executive and Executive Vice President of the Ottawa arm of the company. That means it services the likes of Bell Canada, Rogers, AT&T, Verizon and approximately 1,000 of their counterparts in 25 countries around the world. The company is a global leader in providing real-time communications in voice and video — anything that humans use to communicate with each other — as well as data-transport solutions that allow companies to move large amounts of data over fibre-optic networks or the internet.

A growing part of Ribbon’s business is on the enterprise side. It’s starting to count large financial, educational and government institutions as customers.

Worldwide, the company has 4,000 employees, 250 of whom are in Ottawa.

“Ottawa has a really deep institutional history,” Bucci says.

Ribbon came to Ottawa in 2010 after buying the voice-over-IP division of Nortel.

“We’ve been leveraging a lot of the IP that Nortel helped build and we’re helping to monetize it in different ways,” Bucci says.

Why Ottawa

Ottawa represents one of Ribbon’s largest sites and it focuses on research and development.

“Our Ottawa operations have expertise in a few different areas,” Bucci says. “As a general term, there are very deep ICT skills, next-gen telecoms, voice-over-IP. There’s also a large contingent of know-how around cloud or software-as-a-service skills.”

A long-time resident of the city, Bucci has noticed a shift in Ottawa’s ecosystem from a strong telecom focus 20 years ago to one that now includes autonomous and connected vehicle research and agritech. And many of the folks in those sectors, are from telecom originally.

“You’re seeing the resurrection of analytics even in the days after Cognos and you’re seeing companies such as Folio and Survey Monkey and others really start to grow,” he says.

Bucci says Invest Ottawa has done a great job in connecting the dots with industry verticals, driving synergies and helping executives to connect. There’s a ready supply chain, it’s very diverse, multiple superclusters and a much better system and framework for connecting players in the tech scene.

“The quality of life is off the charts and the talent here is really deep,” he says. “There’s just so much going on. It’s a hidden gem, but it’s becoming not so hidden. And with remote working, you don’t have to be in the big city, so why not live in a great place?”

His colleague, Ali Serdar, moved to Canada from Turkey and couldn’t agree more.

“Having emigrated from a city of more than 20 million people, I like Ottawa because it’s quiet in the suburbs, but still has a crowded downtown area,” Serdar says.

Recent Developments

Telecom is a fast-changing industry and Ribbon is at the forefront of many of those changes.

In 2014, Ribbon created a new brand, Kandy, by moving some of its intellectual property into the cloud to allow for cloud-hosted or software-as-a-service solutions. A large portion of the Kandy team was located in Ottawa.

Kandy might be the voice underneath Microsoft Teams, hosted voice-over-IP or even development-embedded communications. Ribbon announced on December 2 that it had spun Kandy off to AVCTechnologies.

Last March, Ribbon acquired an Israeli packet-optical company known as ECI and in September, it brought Bucci in as the general manager appointed to run that business.

“There is a lot of local talent here and it’s an important base for us, in addition to being a great city,” Bucci says.

Ribbon at a glance

Employees: 4,000 worldwide
Years in business: 20 years
Customers: Bell, Rogers, AT&T, Verizon, British Telecom (BT), Bharti Airtel, Claro
Number of foreign markets: More than 25 countries on six continents
Main product/service: Real-time communications in voice and video

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