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F5 Seizes on Nortel's Misfortune

The switch maker is the first to fire a shot at the troubled Canadian tech giant with product buyback offer.

Updated from 2:01 p.m.

F5 Networks

(FFIV) - Get F5 Networks, Inc. Report

is the first of

Nortel Networks'


rivals to exploit the


telecom equipment manufacturer's recent

bankruptcy filing

, unveiling a buyback program for the Canadian firm's switch technology Tuesday.

F5 is offering trade-in credits toward the replacement of Nortel's Alteon switches, as well as touting customized consulting services to migrate Alteon users over to its BIG-IP technology.

"In today's economic environment, customers need confidence that they are relying on a stable market leader for this critical infrastructure," said Dan Matte, F5's senior vice president of marketing, in a statement. "We appreciate the concerns that Alteon customers are facing, and welcome the opportunity to provide them stability, support and reliability."

F5 is offering up to $9,000 in trade-in credits on Nortel's Alteon technology, looking to capitalize on the firm's

recent problems


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Seattle, Washington-based F5's shares nonetheless dipped with the broader retreat in tech stocks Tuesday, falling 80 cents, or 3.6%, to $21.75.

Despite seeking creditor protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) in Canada, and Chapter 11 in the U.S., Nortel has promised that its customers will be unaffected by its current challenges.

The Canadian firm, which has been wrestling with

plummeting sales

of its wireless gear, also announced plans to


its metro Ethernet networks division in September and is rumored to be carving off more of its business.

With Nortel busy getting its house in order, however, there has also been speculation that firms such as


(CSCO) - Get Cisco Systems, Inc. Report







will attempt to benefit from Nortel's Chapter 11 filing.

Cisco, for example, is facing challenges of its own, making Nortel's customers an increasingly

attractive target

. The tech bellwether recently sent shockwaves through the industry when it forecast a

weak second quarter

amid tight enterprise and service provider budgets.

F5 is not the only tech firm attempting to lure customers away from Nortel. Communications specialist


, for example, already offered its "trade in trade up" program for Nortel and Cisco gear prior to Nortel's bankruptcy filing.