Optus has announced that it has joined Huawei in developing a mobile and wireless innovation centre in Sydney, in a move which could push the telco outside its comfort zone.
The two companies expect the centre to be operational by August, and claim that engineers will work on full development cycles for products within the facility, taking them from concept stage through to ready for market products.
The pair expect their respective developers to begin working together on projects ahead of the opening of the centre.
David Cannon, program manager for telecommunications at research firm IDC, believes that while Huawei has a reliable track record in its product development, "Optus needs to bring something special to the table in order to become a true market leader".
Robin Simpson, research director at analyst firm Gartner, said Optus could benefit from the centre. "All Australian operators are moving fundamentally towards 3G. In Optus's case they've been a little slow, Telstra and Hutchinson are streaks ahead ... the only thing I see that needs to happen is for Optus to speed up a bit, and I think a centre like this will help."
However, Simpson doesn't believe that the work being done in the centre will lead to any significant technological breakthroughs and will instead cement the existing business relationship between Huawei and Optus, which may eventually drive down prices.
"The end result will be that Optus will end up with better infrastructure and probably better pricing," he said, adding that the centre will provide hands-on experience in a research and development environment for some Optus engineers.
Optus Networks managing director, Steve Christian, said in a statement that the centre will "help address the skills shortages within our industry".