Travelling the venture highway

THREE of the State’s leaders in technological developments have joined forces to improve Internet-based communications.

QPSX Ltd, the Australian Telecommunications Cooperative Research Centre, and the University of WA have formed a joint venture company to develop what they call Circuits over Internet Protocol (CoIP), which it is hoped will minimise delays between the sending and receiving of voice data.

While physical copper or fibre networks allow for the virtually instantaneous transmission of voices, the use of current satellite technology in telephony can cause delays of up to 400 milliseconds each way.

The yet-to-be-named company is hoping that users of standard circuit-based equipment will move in increasing numbers to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) networks for transmitting voice data.

QPSX general manager Matt Callahan said while using Internet Protocol could be cheaper and more efficient than normal phone networks, it would not provide a guaranteed quality of service.

This was not such a problem with applications like email, he said, which was not a medium for

instant communication, but was crucial to phone conversations.

Mr Callahan said once the company’s product could be commercialised, sales would be targeted to generally medium-sized enterprises that wanted to move to using new technologies without completely disrupting their existing networks. He said existing local area networks would be used as a base on which to install CoIP.

The QPSX-ATcrc-UWA venture has planned to develop a commercial product in the next 12 months, but its participants have acknowledged they have to be reasonably clever in the marketing of their wares if the venture is to compete with the big names in this field from the US.

In this respect, the venture has chosen to use open standards (rather than proprietary products) to develop CoIP so it is not limited to using or providing equipment from one source.

“There’s no point in going head-to-head with Nortel and Cisco,” Mr Callahan said. “So we’ll achieve wins at the enterprise level where the big companies have less power. Within the spaces we play in, we can provide quality of service.”

The venture’s present headquarters are in UWA’s physics building, but as a result of the university’s efforts to consolidate the locations of its various telecommunications units, it will move in August to the TISC building on the corner of Broadway.

The venture will be backed through the next year by $2 million in cash and in-kind work, and will thereafter seek additional investors. Although a board is yet to be officially named, it is believed the venture will be led by ATcrc CEO Dr Leith Campbell, QPSX CEO Graham Griffiths, and UWA Professor of Telecommunication Tony Cantoni.

Mr Callahan said the venture was keen to prove there were alternative ways to develop and commercialise products than to rely solely on venture capital inputs.

QPSX’s view on the subject was to become involved in projects at an early stage and contribute experience and skills, instead of just money, to develop the project.

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