Friday, 26 November 2021 12:20

Gary Smith awarded 2021 Communications Ambassador at ACOMMS

2021 Communications Ambassador Gary Smith 2021 Communications Ambassador Gary Smith

Telecommunications icon, Mr Gary Smith, has taken out the Australian communication industry’s most prestigious accolade; being awarded the title of Communications Ambassador 2021 at this year’s ACOMM Awards.

The winners of the prestigious 2021 Communications Alliance Awards were announced this evening at the 15th Annual ACOMM Awards Dinner in Sydney. The evening’s keynote address was delivered by Paul Fletcher, Federal Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts.

The individual category awards were taken out by a star-studded line-up of Australian service providers - featuring a mix of long-established players and new faces.

In a storied career spanning more than three decades in the industry, Gary Smith has made leading contributions to regulatory agendas and frameworks which support industry performance and good customer outcomes.

Gary has led industry activities through his positions on multiple Boards, reference panels and working groups. From his time at AUSTEL, helping set the industry framework for de-regulation, to his 25 years at Optus and his roles on the TIO Board, TIO Council and Comms Alliance Board, to his involvement in the development of mobile porting arrangements, content blocking and take-down processes, and security-related industry rules, Gary's wisdom and guidance has been valued throughout the sector.

“Gary’s contribution has been enormous. He personifies the qualities that the judging panel looks for in a Communications Ambassador and has been a source of regular and invaluable counsel for me, the Comms Alliance Board, our management team and industry colleagues more broadly,” said Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton.

“Highly respected by all stakeholders, Gary’s constructive demeanour, his insight and logical approach have been instrumental in solving many of the challenges that industry has confronted in its quest for continuous improvement.”

Stanton added, “The ACOMM Awards represent the pinnacle of achievement for the Australian communications industry, and I congratulate all the winners and finalists in the 2021 ACOMMS,
“Excellence in innovation is a pervasive trait in the achievements of the 2021 ACOMM winners.”

The winners of the 2021 ACOMM Awards are:


  • Innovation – Large Company – Optus: Donate Your Data - An innovative product that empowers customers to be able to make a meaningful impact in bridging the digital divide for young Australians in need by donating something that has become a vital ingredient in connecting to the world around us — data.
  • Innovation – SME – National Narrowband Network Company (NNNCo): N- Station, the Plug-and-Play, Portable LoRaWAN Gateway - The new NNNCo N- Station Portable Gateway Kit is part of NNNCo’s brand new LoRaWAN ‘Network in a Box’, the NNN Now range. This offer can easily and quickly be deployed by industrial customers around the world to connect their devices or sensors to the Internet of Things and start unlocking new business cases by receiving valuable data within minutes!
  • Vendor Innovation – Ericsson: Ericsson's 5G Leadership & Innovation in Australia - Ericsson has delivered several technology innovations to help Australian operators build among the world’s most advanced 5G mobile and FWAnetworks. Ericsson has helped Telstra, Optus, and NBN achieve ten world’s first, including two world records in recent years, accelerating the rollout and adoption of 5G in Australia.
  • Commitment to Customer Service – Telstra: EME Education Campaign – Telstra’s Chief 5G Investigator - Telstra’s 5G Investigator was a content campaign designed to help customers and the wider Australian populace disregard the spreading misinformation and feel more comfortable with the deployment and application of 5G technology.
  • Services to the Industry, Professional Services – (joint winners) au.Domain Administration and Clayton Utz
    • au.Domain Administration: New rules to keep the .au domain trusted and secure - The auDA Compliance Team has overseen the implementation of a new licensing rules framework for the .au domain, working with the domain name industry to promote compliance and ensure the .au remains secure, accessible and trusted for the benefit of all Australians.
    • Clayton Utz: Legal Services - We are a leading Australian law firm with a national top-tier telecommunications practice. Our practice has unrivalled industry knowledge and we are at the forefront of current industry and regulatory developments. We work on some of the most complex, strategic and high profile projects, many of which have redefined the telecommunications landscape in Australia.
  • Best Mobile Solution – Soprano Design: Soprano Connect - Soprano Design, a global leader in CPaaS (Communications Platform as a Service), offers Australian companies a mobile solution to communicate with all of their customers’ needs. During COVID-19, this service was adapted for the inclusion of communicating contact tracing, connecting hospitals and patients, and the vaccine rollout.
  • Community Contribution – Telstra: Supporting the nation through fires and pandemic - During 2020, Australia rolled out of one large-scale crisis into another, with months of unprecedented bushfires compounded by the disruption of the pandemic. These challenges highlight the importance of connectivity for all Australians & we’re proud of our compassionate and continuous response. We stepped up in a big way for the nation in the last 18 months to help our customers, our people, and the country in a time of need.
  • Australian Space Industry Award – Vocus: Business Internet-Satellite - Our Business Internet-Satellite solution, developed with NBN, makes it easier and more affordable for enterprise, government, and wholesale to invest and operate in regional and remote Australia, bringing benefits for both businesses and the surrounding communities, and cements our position as a leading enabler of Australia’s satellite industry.
  • Diversity and Inclusion – Aussie Broadband: “Inclusion first” program - Aussie’s “Inclusion first” program focuses on real actions rather than words on paper, so that diversity and inclusion have become part of the company’s DNA. It is not about any specific large project, but an absolute belief that it is the small things that make a bigger impact over time.  On winning the award Aussie Broadband managing director Phillip Britt said, “I’m very honoured to accept this accolade on behalf of the team, because diversity and inclusion is really important to us here at Aussie Broadband. This award is a huge recognition of all the amazing work everyone does at Aussie with our ‘Inclusion First’ approach. I would like to thank every one of the team members at Aussie Broadband.”
  • Sustainability – TPG Telecom: felix mobile: one tree planted - Differentiating itself from other telco brands in the market, felix launched with a pledge to plant one tree a month for every active customer, with a goal to plant 1,000,000 trees with the help of their customers.
  • Artificial Intelligence – Nokia: Nokia Scene Analytics - Nokia and City of Melbourne use AI to improve the city experience in Melbourne’s iconic laneways.

This first appeared in the subscription newsletter CommsWire on 24 November 2021.

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Chris Coughlan

A versatile technology executive with extensive experience in most disciplines and technologies in the Information and Communications Technologies sector. Roles have encompassed general management, product management, business development, sales management, industry marketing, operations management, research and development, business case development, market research and forecasting, regulatory, strategy management, solution development, major project construction, process design and management, technology and management consulting, and engineering.

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