Centre for Broadband Innovation open for action

By Merri Mack
Wednesday, 08 December, 2010

The Australian Centre for Broadband Innovation (ACBI) was launched, this week, on the CSIRO campus in Marsfield. The ACBI is a joint initiative between the NSW Government and research organisations CSIRO and National ICT Australia (NICTA). The centre will help NSW capitalise on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

It was officially declared open by Barry Buffer, Deputy Director General of NSW Industry & Development, who was representing Eric Roozendaal, NSW Treasurer and Special Minister of State.

The NSW Government has contributed $7.5 million to establish the centre over three years with matching in-kind support from NICTA and CSIRO. Buffer joked that he had the cheque in his pocket when he was speaking about the significance of the centre for Australia and NSW, especially with the NBN becoming a reality.

Quoting Geoffrey Blainey’s book, Tyranny of Distance, Buffer said, “We will no longer have to suffer the tyranny of distance as the NBN will mitigate distance.” NBN Co will collaborate with the centre.

The centre will work with industry to create breakthrough broadband applications in four areas: digital media and interactive broadcasting; tele-health and e-health technologies; infrastructure such as smart grid, including all areas of transport; and e-government.

Industry supporters of ACBI include IBM, Nokia-Siemens Networks, Hewlett-Packard and Microsoft. Senator Stephen Conroy, the Minister of Communications (and the NBN) also sent his best wishes and congratulations on the ACBI.

The Director of CSIRO ICT Centre, Dr Ian Oppermann, said the centre’s work will cover a range of broadband applications.

“With ACBI’s broadband network we’ll take the broadband applications we’re developing out of the lab and bring them into the real world,” said Oppermann. Many of these broadband applications are in prototype now and were demonstrated at the opening, engendering considerable interest.

Dr Terry Percival, Laboratory Director, NICTA Neville Roach Research Laboratory said, “The ACBI brings together two of the world’s leading ICT research organisations to work with the world’s most advanced national broadband network rollout while collaborating with government agencies, big players in the ICT industry and the users.”

Percival posed a question in his remarks: “What would you do with unlimited, free, ubiquitous and infinite bandwidth?” The answer: vision. For example: better telepresence, as latency would get better and better, also it would mean we would have to work out ways to harness the computational power in the cloud.

The most pertinent comment Percival made, as a very experienced radio researcher, was that, as radio/wireless spectrum is limited, it should not be wasted on providing services that the national broadband can provide, putting paid to the advocates of wireless services instead of broadband services.

“We need broadband to deliver the many different services from different service providers that homeowners will expect.”

Dr James Bradfield Moody, Executive Director Development, CSIRO, making a point about time frame and innovation, said, “Time frame does really matter. ACBI will look at innovation and it will underpin services we don’t even know we want or need.”

The ACBI will operate over multiple sites. CSIRO’s ICT Centre at Marsfield will be connected to NICTA at the Australian Technology Park and the NSW Government’s NBN testbed at Parkbridge Estate in the south west of Sydney.

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