The State Government is making special research funds available to a Perth computer company to support its bid for a major Telecom contract which could be worth up to $35 million.
Deputy Premier and State Development Minister Ian Taylor said today the Government's R & D review committee had been convened at short notice on Christmas Eve to examine the proposal because of the extraordinary impact the contract could have on the expansion of Western Australia's high-tech industry.
"The amount of money involved - $25,000 - is not very large, but it was needed urgently to complete development on a very sophisticated computer device that will monitor the quality of a telecommunications network," Mr Taylor said.
"If the company, Precision Micro Systems (PMS), wins the Telecom contract, it will not only create many new jobs in the industry, but put this State and Australia at the forefront of communication quality control."
Mr Taylor said Telecom was due to call tenders for the equipment in the New Year - and if PMS was not represented the only bidders were likely to be overseas computer companies.
"In fact, the outcome of this tender could determine the growth of the local computer industry for a long time to come," he said.
"If PMS wins, the company will need to increase its staff from the current 13 to 70 within two years.
"But it does not stop there. Such an order puts PMS in the same category as that other local computer company, QPSX - a world leader in telecommunications technology."
Mr Taylor said the PMS device - known as the Insight Quality Assessment System - was designed to monitor and help manage the performance of the entire Telecom network.
He said one practical example of how the device would work would be in the management of peak hour telephone calls.
For example, at present when a television station invited its viewers to take part in a `phone in' public opinion survey, an avalanche of such calls could disrupt other parts of the telephone network.
The new device would be able to identify the problem and see to it that such calls were queued away from the `normal' telephone traffic.
Mr Taylor said PMS had already invested $200,000 developing the device and Telecom had already spent $400,000 on an earlier version.
"We are confident that the company can pull off the larger contract and see its devices installed in every telephone exchange in the country," he said.
"If it can achieve that, it will be well on its way to tackling the export market."