Telstra's latest cloud deal

Telstra privacy debacle hasn't stopped it from pushing through with its cloud agenda and the Gillard government's controversial e-health system finally goes live.

Telstra’s privacy policy might justifiably be under fire at the moment but that hasn’t stopped the telco from inking another deal in the tech space. Telstra’s venture capital arm has been pretty busy of late and its latest move is in the contact centre space.

Telstra is partnering with Sydney-based IPscape to enhance its Virtual Contact Centre (VCC) solution and the partnership comes after the telco’s venture capital arm took a stake in the cloud contact centre specialist 

Telstra has spent just under $5 million for the stake and this is the third deal in recent months for the venture capital arm, which has already poured some money into restaurant booking service Dimmi and Silicon Valley online video start-up Ooyala.

Video, cloud-based contact centre technology or online reservations, Telstra’s venture capital arm is seemingly making all the right moves at the moment, moves which are consistent with what is happening in the rest of the telco space. Telcos around the world are leaving no stone unturned when it comes to exploiting new growth avenues and Telstra is flexing its substantial fiscal muscle to explore multiple prospects. Of course investing in the likes of IPspace, Ooyala and Dimmi is just the first part of the equation, the second stage will involve getting full value out of the investments.

However, the buzz around Telstra right now is for all the wrong reasons and the latest privacy blunder, coupled with the damning assessment from the privacy tsar Timothy Pilgrim, doesn’t do the telco any favours. As one Technology Spectator reader rightfully pointed out over the weekend Telstra’s decision to initiate data tracking without notifying its customers truly beggars belief and threatens to undermine the work done by the telco to rehabilitate its image.

While a contrite Telstra has offered its apologies for the data tracking snafu, the picture of systemic inadequacy painted by the privacy commissioner and ACMA with regards to the December data breach is a real worry. The regulators may have their hands tied when it comes to imposing penalties for Telstra’s lack of oversight but the telco has been put on notice and should certainly not take its customers for granted.

In other telco news, internet service provider EFTel has marked out more territory in the rapidly consolidating ISP sector with the acquisition of West Australian Networks (WAN).The deal will not only see EFTel grab WAN’s 1500 business and residential customers but also acquire the company's intellectual property and domain name,

Elsewhere, Vodafone New Zealand and Australian mobile enterprise application platform (MEAP) provider BlinkMobile have joined forces. The partnership will give Vodafone business customers access to BlinkMobile’s platform, which allows them to take any existing back-end information systems or web accessible services and deliver applications or mobile services to any device.

Soft launch for the national e-health record initiative

The carbon tax may have garnered all the headlines but the Gillard government also managed to launch another one of its ambitious initiatives, albeit with much less fanfare. The often controversial, Personally Controlled E-Health Record (PCEHR) system, is now available to the public

The PCEHR, accessed by the patient and his or her authorised healthcare providers, has been somewhat of a protracted affair for the Gillard government and after soaking up one billion dollars the soft launch is designed to test the efficacy of the platform. The real action will reportedly begin in August when healthcare providers will be able to interact with the system to access records and upload clinical information about patients.

Concerns about the system have ranged from patient privacy, greater litigation risks for healthcare professionals and the fact that patients will have control of what is put on record. According to some critics, this poses an undue liability for doctors and patients. Given the sensitive nature of the data concerns have also been raised about the security of the information.

The PCEHR system will be operated by consulting group Accenture, which reportedly nabbed the two-year $47 million contract last week. According to The Australian, the infrastructure for the e-health system has been built by an Accenture-led consortium at a cost of $90 million and the official launch is not expected before August.

Jabiru-1 on track for 2014 launch 

NewSat has taken another step in making its satellite dreams a reality with the successful completion of the Jabiru-1 Preliminary Design Review (PDR) by Lockheed Martin.

According to the company, this is a major milestone for the Jabiru-1 Program's development and essentially means that the satellite is on track for launch in 2014 with Arianespace.

Lockheed Martin Commercial Space Systems (LMCSS) commenced construction of the Jabiru-1 satellite at its Newtown, Pennsylvania, USA facility in January 2012. The satellite utilises the A2100 spacecraft platform and will feature 50 Ka-band high-powered transponders configured in a variety of spot beams, regional beams and steerable beams to provide flexible communication solutions for a range of diverse applications.

The satellite has been designed for a minimum service life of 15 years, with a total payload of 8.3 GHz and will provide 7.6 GHz of “new” Ka-band capacity to high demand regions over the Middle East, South Asia and Africa.

Meanwhile, the outfit building the NBN satellites, Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) has been sold to its Canada’s MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd for about $875 million. The deal shouldn’t have an impact on the delivery of the NBN satellites with the Gillard government saying that both should be operational by 2015.

Macquarie's latest online punt 

Moving to the online retail space, local outfit Temple & Webster has managed to secure a significant investment from Macquarie Capital.

The retailer is the brainchild of Brian Shanahan (former CFO eBay Australia and ex-CEO Gumtree International), Adam McWhinney (former Product Director for The Australian and creator of, and Mark Coulter and Conrad Yiu of ArdenPoint, a business incubator specialising in the online retail sector.

The investment will naturally help the retailer expand its marketing efforts and invest more money into its product and service offerings. 

Temple & Webster offers its members exclusive access to premium quality furniture, home wares, home décor, art, gifts and lifestyle products from both well-known and up-and-coming Australian and international designers. The business also has Former News Limited executive and publisher, Alasdair MacLeod, as a backer.

Wrapping up 

In other news, business technology publisher iStart and demand generation firm Software Shortlist have officially merged to create an integrated platform for technology marketers in the region. Both brands will be retained in the merger.

DDLS (Dimension Data Learning Solutions) has become the first Australian company to receive the globally prestigious 2012 Microsoft Learning Competency Training Solution Excellence Partner of the Year Award. The accolade recognises DDLS as a leader in a field of top international Microsoft partners in driving awareness, education and the adoption of new Microsoft technologies

The Microsoft Global Awards were presented in multiple categories, and winners were chosen from a set of nearly 3,000 entrants worldwide

Meanwhile, CitiPower and Powercor Australia have selected Flexera Software’s FlexNet Manager Suite for Enterprises, which provides entitlement based license management and optimisation to enable organisations to reduce ongoing software licensing costs. CitiPower supplies electricity to more than 310,000 distribution customers in Melbourne's CBD and inner suburbs. Powercor Australia is Victoria's largest electricity distributor, which supplies electricity to 700,000 customers in regional and rural centres in central and western Victoria, and Melbourne's outer western suburbs.

Elsewhere, IP desktop phones and IP communications solutions provider snom technology has announced the expansion of its strategic relationship with Digital Techniques Limited, a snom Gold level distribution partner in Asia. Under terms of this agreement, Digital Techniques (Australia) Pty Ltd, the company’s Australian division, has become an official snom Gold level distribution partner for Australia and New Zealand.

Finally, social customer experience provider, Lithium Technologies, has opened its first Australian office as it spreads its wings in the Asia-Pacific region. The office, located in North Sydney, follows the company’s recent move into Singapore. Lithium’s list of existing customers in the region that include Indosat, Optus, Telstra and Vodafone Australia.

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