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Launceston broadband R&D to continue.

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Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Telstra’s decision to continue operating its Launceston Broadband eLab beyond 30 June is positive news for the community.

Federal Member for Bass Michael Ferguson said that B-eLab is the first Telstra research and development facility located outside Sydney or Melbourne.

It currently develops and trials innovative online applications and services as part of the $30 million Launceston Broadband Project (LBP), a joint initiative between the Australian Government and Telstra which will finish on 30 June.

“I am very pleased that Telstra is continuing to support the B-eLab, with many of the 20 employed staff expected to continue beyond 30 June 2006,” Mr Ferguson said.

“The LBP was established in 1999 to provide a ‘living laboratory’ and test-bed facilities in Launceston. Through the B-eLab, skills, employment and business opportunities have grown in the Tasmanian ICT industry.

“The LBP has also trialled new broadband technologies and provided enhanced broadband services for businesses and individuals in the Launceston region.”

The test-bed, consisting of more than 3,500 customers, has been used to develop and trial over 30 telecommunications and multimedia services, and more than 20 software products developed through the B-eLab.

Business and residential customers in the Launceston region received more than $5 million in rebates to access the test-bed using subsidised ADSL or innovative wireless broadband technology.

Mr Ferguson said that B-eLab will continue specialised application development after 30 June and Telstra will offer incentives to existing LBP customers to encourage their ongoing participation in related tests and trials.

“The B-eLab and the test-bed were also used by 12 grant recipients from the related Australian Government funding initiative, the $5 million Business Development Fund, to develop and trial innovative broadband and multimedia applications. Some of these applications have since been commercialised,” he said.

Telstra’s continued operation of the B-eLab builds on the Government’s recent announcement of up to $18 million in funding for the Market Access and Partnership Program and $30 million for the CSIRO Tasmanian ICT Innovation Centre under the $40 million Intelligent Island program.