Nortel makes $150m local R&D investment

Nortel Networks is investing $150 million in research and development and export initiatives in Australia, the company announced here yesterday.

The commitment is a significant boost on last year's three-year, $80 million investment, Reg Bird, president of Nortel Networks, Asia South Pacific, said.

"A substantial portion of the $150 million will be allocated to outsourced and collaborative programs located around Australia, and discussions are currently underway with a number of potential organisations, including Nortel Networks' customers, Australian universities and industry," Bird said.

As part of the initiative, Nortel plans to increase its investment in enterprise R&D in the areas of enterprise data, call centres, computer-telephony integration (CTI), and e-commerce.

A key aspect of the five-year investment is the establishment of a Wireless Internet R&D facility in Wollongong. The facility, which is an extension of the existing Nortel Networks Technology Centre at the University of Wollongong, will focus on wireless Internet data applications, access and platforms as well as research into wireless IN (Intelligent Networks) and the impact of high-speed data on GSM and CDMA platforms.

In addition to the R&D efforts, Nortel also reaffirmed its commitment to exports - announcing a target of $600 million in exports for the five-year period.

"This will build on the $350 million exports generated in telecommunications equipment and services, the $80 million committed to R&D, since Nortel joined Australia's Partnership for Development Program in 1989," officials said.

State and federal governments have welcomed Nortel's investment in Australia, which is expected to generate close to 130 new jobs throughout Australia.

"This is a major win for the Illawarra region," Michael Egan, NSW Minister for State Development, said.

"More than 100 highly skilled jobs will be created in the Illawarra region, (where Wollongong is the main centre), over the next five years as a result of the Nortel investment."

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