China-based networking vendor, Huawei Australia, has donated equipment and thousands of dollars as part of collaborative efforts with the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES).
The IBES is a $2 million facility which opened in July 2009 to research the implications of the National Broadband Network. Huawei and IBES signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) this week to strengthen research into broadband technologies, services and applications.
According to IBES director, Professor Rod Tucker, the MOU was first broached in July or August. Huawei attained platinum sponsorship status through financial and hardware donations to the institute.
“These are cash contributions. It’s in the tens of thousands of dollars to be a member at this level. There’s a bit of a trade-off between equipment and cash, but the majority is cash,” Professor Tucker said.
The fact Huawei’s competitors were also on-board as sponsors was a major positive and selling point for the institute, he said.
“By being involved in a neutral community of telecommunications and other companies working in a broad area, they’re becoming competitive by getting involved at a pretty competitive stage,” Professor Tucker said.
Although Huawei recently scored several major contracts around the world, including one in Perth with the Seven Network to install the nation’s first 4G network, it continues to face controversy over alleged links to the Chinese Government.
Professor Tucker refused to comment on the allegations, but said all partners would have access to the institute’s researchers and students as well as the data from any research completed.
“There’s potential for all the partners to have access to excellent students for future employment,” he said. “We’re doing research that will break new ground and all partners will have access to the outcomes of the research at an early stage and will be able to help set the directions.”
The deal is an important one for the Victorian Government, which suffered a major blow to its IT credibility in September when IT outsourcer, Mahindra-Satyam, pulled out of a $75 million deal to build a centre at Deakin University.
“The signing of the MOU further highlights Victoria’s leadership in supporting and developing innovative and job-creating technology, demonstrating why Victoria is the natural home for the National Broadband Network,” Victorian ICT minister, John Lenders, said in a statement.