A few months ago we ran a story about the CEO of Israeli company RAD Data saying that Australia was not much good at producing hardware communications technology. Well, we are pleased to report that there is a small but well-funded group of Australians who have for the past six years been doing their very best to refute that claim. A company of a few more than 20 staff, led by some of the brightest hardware and software engineers in the land, has come up with a product that its backers believe could change the cost equation for telecommunications carriers. It would be easy to dismiss the claim as rhetoric if two of the principal backers were not former honchos from Datacraft, one of Australia's most successful telecommunications companies of yesteryear.
Datacraft founder George Kepper (left) and Wayne Fitzsimmons are two of the names behind what Mr Fitzsimmons describes as the patient capital backing Haliplex Communications Systems, which fittingly occupies part of the former Datacraft complex in the eastern Melbourne suburb of Mooroolbark.
The technology that Haliplex has designed, developed and now manufactures at its Moorolbark complex, is described as "next-generation edge access and multiplexing solutions for private fibre operators, service providers, and fixed wireless networks". Put simply, Haliplex has developed a compact modular box, slightly larger than a laptop computer that replaces refrigerator-sized monstrosities sitting in the exchanges of carriers such as Telstra that provide voice and data services to corporate clients, at about 20 per cent the cost with far greater flexibility and functionality.
Naturally, there is huge overseas interest for the excellent product. While we toured the premises of Haliplex, there were two teams of Japanese and Spanish representatives of carriers pouring over the equipment with great interest.
Export sales have already been made. Sadly, however, the interest from Australia so far has been zero.
"Telstra has an agreement with Alcatel," explains Haliplex chief executive, David Drew. Oh well, we wouldn't want to upset the relationship that our major carrier has with its French supplier of old technology that costs five times as much as the local product would we?