Nortel Networks, the world's biggest communications gear maker, has stalled on its plan to add another 1,400 employees in Asia-Pacific by the end of this year. The Canadian firm last year unveiled its strategy to hire staff and boost its regional profile. However, sales fell short of expectations on changing market conditions this year. 'I think things have changed in the telecommunications industry. The marketplace is quite different from what it was a year ago,' said Asia-Pacific president Masood Tariq. Like other technology companies hit by the United States economic meltdown, Nortel this year announced layoffs totalling about 20,000 out of its 82,000 employees worldwide. Mr Tariq declined to say how many staff would be hired in Asia-Pacific. 'There's always adjustments going on, I think, in every part of Nortel. It's not that we have planned layoffs or anything; we have been adjusting resources from one place to another,' he said. According to company spokesman Daliea Mohamad-Liauw, Nortel now employs about 4,000 staff in the region, including workers linked to joint ventures. She said the company's plan to cut 20,000 employees around the globe had affected the regional unit, but in a minimal fashion, because Asia was still a booming market. In April, Nortel's India branch halted plans to open a research and development facility and increase its 100 staff to 500 during the next three years. Mr Tariq said the change was part of the company's worldwide staff reduction and its efforts to realign resources to strategic areas. Nortel also was adjusting its portfolio and would stop making certain telecoms equipment, he said. 'We have announced that we're getting out of the low-speed access and DSL [digital subscriber line] businesses.' Mr Tariq declined to update the growth estimates he provided earlier this year. In March, he said Nortel estimated the telecoms market would increase about 16 per cent in Asia-Pacific, and he aimed to increase sales by about 32 per cent. Nortel, which recently won a multi-million-dollar deal to provide Korea Telecom with a high-performance optical solution to cut network traffic bottlenecks in Seoul, is bolstering its efforts in the region, including China, which is building its telecoms infrastructure. 'The market in Asia-Pacific, even with the impact we've seen, is very well and especially very strong in China,' Mr Tariq said.