Alston resigns as parting gift to Telstra’s 80 years

Upstaged and stood-up by the sudden resignation of Communications and IT Minister Richard Alston, Telstra’s top brass have bravely soldiered on in an effort to reveal a series of new products and celebrate 80 years of Telstra Research Laboratories in Melbourne.

Before a bemused congregation of onlookers, media and dignitaries yesterday, Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski, CTO Hugh Bradlow and CIO Jeff Smith lined up to reveal a series of new developments and initiatives centred around a variety of SMS offerings, network management applications and natural language speech recognition.

Cunningly dubbed Telstra SMS Directory Search, one offering allows staff working away from the office the ability to text message the name of a person they are trying to contact with the service returning the contact information via SMS.

Another solution in gestation allows the public to buy tickets via SMS and receive a barcode that can then be scanned via infra-red for access control by a facility or event.

Telstra Chief Technology Officer Hugh Bradlow said that the new products highlighted Telstra’s commitment to bring commercialised research projects to market, although neither currently have a market release date.

Telstra CEO Ziggy Switkowski paid tribute to TRL's 80-year life span, saying that TRL was now firmly focused on delivering profitable outcomes for the telco.

“TRL will play a key role in driving innovation into the market place as part of the newly formed Telstra Technology Innovation and Product Group which takes effect Wednesday.

Telstra CIO Jeff Smith welcomed the formation of the new group, saying that the integration of Telstra’s IT shop, product, and research and development arms represented a formidable alliance.

“Anytime you have product development through to delivery you have a great synergy and a great opportunity,” Smith said.

The erstwhile Minister for Communications was represented by Senator Alan Eggleston. In a frothy speech that celebrated too many facets of Mr Alston to mention, Eggleston said that TRL had been instrumental in rescuing the Australian television from a lesser American standard for the superior German PAL format.

“The alternative at that time was the American system, which anybody who has ever been there will know is dreadful. Everything is deep purple and pink and the German system is a very good system and is used in the UK. TRL’s recommendation there was a great benefit to Australia," Eggleston said.

Eggleston concluded his tribute to Alston by saying that “Richard Alston has been the greatest Communications Minister this country has ever seen. He has presided over an era that has seen a great improvement in telecommunications. Richard Alston has been a very strong driver of the full privatisation of Telstra. He has done so much to protect and preserve the interests of people in regional Australia”.

Julian Bajkowski travelled to Melbourne as a guest of Telstra.

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