OzTech: NAIDOC digital moves; Telstra and TPG make mobile network spectrum more efficient; 5G, AI innovation centres

OzTech Roundup is Computerworld Australia’s weekly look at the world of IT.

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NAIDOC Week digital announcements

The NAIDOC Week celebrations last week, which takes place every July across Australia to celebrate the history, culture, and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples included a few digital-related announcements. (NAIDOC is the National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee.)

NBN has announced a three-year collaboration deal with Jawun, a not-for-profit organisation that partners with Indigenous communities to empower Indigenous-led change and foster meaningful connections between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians. As a result, NBN will place as many as 12 of its employees into Indigenous organisations across Australia, sharing their expertise to help communities enhance their digital capability.

The University of Melbourne Indigenous Business Sector Snapshot 1.0 found some success when compared to non-Indigenous businesses: Registered Indigenous businesses are bigger businesses on average—with average gross income of $1.6 million in 2018 and 14 employees, compared to $400,000 and two employees for non-Indigenous businesses. Of course, there are far fewer Indigenous businesses, but given their success it makes sense to increase investments to have more of them. The Professional, Scientific, and Technical Services sector makes up 14% of all Indigenous businesses and is responsible for 6% of all employees and 8% of gross income.

Telstra and TPG Telecom restack mobile network spectrum

Telstra and TPG Telecom have defragmented and re-stacked their mobile network spectrum—specifically, the 1800MHz and 2100MHz spectrum bands—in Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Darwin, Hobart, and Perth, promising a better network experience as a result. Telstra claims this has improved its 4G speeds by as much as 20%.

Spectrum restacking involves defragmenting and shifting separate spectrum blocks that are not adjacent to create a single contiguous holding, Telstra explained. In Telstra’s case, separate 10MHz spectrum blocks have been joined to form single 20MHz blocks in six cities. Larger spectrum blocks are more efficient as they can carry more traffic.

The telcos spectrum holdings in the 1800MHz and 2100MHz bands were fragmented due to different spectrum allocations made over the last decade. The 1800MHz band was restacked by all operators in 2012 as part of the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s spectrum licence reissue process.

TPG Telecom opens innovation lab

TPG Telecom has opened an innovation lab in Sydney that will serve as an integrated site for vendors to trial their emerging 5G-related technologies. Samsung is the first vendor to use the lab.

The lab has a data centre and rooftop mobile site. According to TPG, the site offers potential to unlock 5G’s high-throughput and ultralow-latency capabilities for industry verticals, such as for using augmented reality and virtual reality for training, using low-latency remote control for mining and transportation, and implementing smart city applications.

Deloitte Australia launches private AI institute

Deloitte Australia has opened an artificial intelligence institute in Melbourne as part of a global strategy to drive innovation and collaboration in AI and machine learning. The institute is not an open AI research facility; its focus is to help Deloitte’s customers, practitioners, and partners to start or scale AI capabilities.

The Australian federal government has recently launched the country’s first AI Action Plan backed by $124.1 million in funding.

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