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Marconi moves to quicken broadband pace

Marconi moves to quicken broadband pace

A faster introduction of new products and services to Australia should be the impact of a multi-million dollar research and development centre in North Sydney, believes its creator Marconi.

The British telecommunications giant officially opened its Broadband Centre of Excellence (BBCE) last week. However, it actually opened and has been using the centre since the middle of last year.

Currently it is employing ten engineers, with plans to employ a hundred within five years.

The centre's main aim will be working with carriers to upgrade existing DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) networks to very high bitrate DSL and Fibre to the home (FTTH) platforms.

Marconi Australia finance director Jonathan Kenny told ARN that the centre will allow companies to test products to work for the Australian market, often using the country as a test bed for much larger launches overseas.

Existing users of the centre include TransACT, a "triple play" voice, video and data network that serves 60,000 homes in Canberra, that Marconi helped install.

Marconi is also a reseller for Redfern Network Broadband Products, a US provider of "giga-edge" carrier-class transport systems, whose products will also be further tested.

"We are also looking at interoperability (of products) with other vendors," Kenny said.

Marconi says overseas technologies entering the country often need testing in a "customer" environment, which may require software development or signalling development.

"We can do a demo of how a network will look to a customer. It's integrating our products on top their networks," Kenny explained.

Potential customers for the centre include "all the major carriers" such as Telstra, Optus and Primus.

"They are all interested in our products. Clearly, there are [also] broadband developments around Australian utilities," he continued.

Impending products being tested at the centre include a "fibre to the home" solution, an interactive kiosk-type Web phone set for release in 3-4 months, plus others associated with Marconi's "access hub" for its "triple play" technology.

"There are other products we are testing with our equipment. We have had interest from other OEMs to have their products tested in the country. The Australian market is very good for introducing new technology because it allows us to prime the technologies well before leapfrogging [them] to the rest of the world," Kenny added.

The BBCE is only Marconi's second such centre. The other is in Coventry, England.


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