Nortel Networks Corp, for years a wallflower as rivals in the telecom-equipment business paired up, has found new popularity now that it’s in bankruptcy. The first of Nortel’s parts to be sold off, the wireless technology unit alone has attracted at least three bids ranging from $650 million to $730 million. It is set to be auctioned in about an hour.

European telecom equipment makers Ericsson and Nokia Siemens have made offers, along with U.S. private equity firm MatlinPatterson. Canada’s Research In Motion, maker of the BlackBerry, is protesting the process, saying it has effectively been blocked from making a $1.1 billion bid.

“There’s a lot of delicious irony associated with what’s happening now,” said Carmi Levy, an independent technology analyst. “Everybody shows up for the funeral, but no one goes to visit the patients in hospital before they actually die.”

From an analysis by Susan Taylor