Ericsson closes local R&D labs

Ericsson today announced it is closing its Australian-based R&D lab as part of global cost-cutting measures that will impact 450 staff in Melbourne and Sydney.

The move is part of a reduction in R&D across the company's global operations in the last 18 months and will see cuts to the 450 staff over the next six to nine months.

The AsiaPacificLab specialises in key global platform, signalling and service layer products that are integrated into global product offerings and will not affect local customers, according to Barry Borzillo, managing director of Ericsson Australia. "Whilst the closure of the regional R&D centre does not affect our local customers, this is a major decision by the group and not taken lightly," he said.

"Although the closure is very disappointing, Ericsson Australia looks forward to our new affirmed responsibility for the regional wireline market unit and our role as a regional services hub."

Anders Wanman, vice president and general manager for Ericsson core network development, said yesterday in Sweden: "This in no way reflects on the competence and performance of our R&D group in Australia, but underlines the tough decisions that are being taken in the current environment."

Ric Clark, managing director of Ericsson AsiaPacificLab, said: "Naturally our staff are extremely disappointed, but we will refocus to complete our current assignments and transfer our responsibilities with the competence and professionalism that has been the hallmark of the organisation for over 20 years.

Clark said the AsiaPacificLab has registered more than 75 patents on core switch and signalling technology and had influenced global telecommunication standards. "Amongst its many product achievements it developed the 'call queuing system', the basis of today's call centre technology, recognised by the Powerhouse Museum as one of the top 100 Australian inventions of the 20th Century along," Clark said.

"It is a sad day for R&D in Australia with no upside except that the local industry will have access now to some of the finest communications and software engineers in the world as AsiaPacificLab completes its assignments," he said.

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