Terence (Terry) Percival

By October 20th, 2014


Dr Terence Percival spent the first ten years of his career researching more sensitive radio receivers for large radio telescope arrays. Firstly as a graduate student he worked as part of the team that doubled the resolution of the Fleurs Synthesis Telescope he developed new low noise amplifiers and oscillator systems. He also worked on the transmission systems for the VLA telescope in New Mexico. In 1983, he joined the team designing the Australia Telescope. He was responsible for the overall design of the radio receiving systems, local oscillator systems and optical fibre communications.

In 1986, he joined the National Measurement Laboratory where he transformed the national frequency standards system from travelling atomic clocks to satellite time transfer systems using, the then, new technology of Global Positioning System (GPS) and the newly launched Aussat satellites. He also worked on superconducting cavities as frequency references and published the first results showing that the new high Tc superconductor (YB2C3O7) could be utilised in microwave resonators.

Career in telecommunications

In 1988, he was appointed as Research Manager for the Overseas Telecommunications Corporation’s Satellite Communications Group. The most notable achievement in this area was the creation of a world-wide standard for a new digital satellite communications system specifically designed for thin-route telephony and data. This problem required the development of a new system which would replace the analogue VISTA system and give more efficient space segment utilisation, better hence lower cost. After an extensive design process and performance simulation detailed specification and a document justifying all elements of the specification was submitted to INTELSAT and accepted without alteration. This was the first time an Australian designed satellite communications system had been accepted by an international satellite operator. This system has since become know as Telstra Digital DAMA and has been adopted by other carriers using Intelsat for thin route telephony. This system is still in operation and has been deployed in many Pacific Island and developing nations.

He was then asked to establish an Integrated Design facility for use by all of OTC’s R&D section. Particular areas of research covered by this section were GaAs monolithic integrated circuits for satellite receiver systems, high-speed digital GaAs ICs for line coding, CMOS ICs designed for ATM packet switches.

Wireless systems research at CSIRO

Terry Percival joined the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics in December 1991 as a Principal Research Scientist working in the Program for LANs and Network Services (PLaNS). He was a project leader for the development of a Very High Performance Wireless LAN, which involved collaboration with industrial collaborators and supervising the contract research carried out by Macquarie University. He led the team which developed the high-speed wireless LAN testbed which was used to refine and prove the technology which was patented as the 5,487,069 US patent. He also managed the development of the world first prototype 802.11a hardware and later an integrated circuit developed by CSIRO and Macquarie University staff in 1997. In 1997, he helped establish the Radiata spinout companies.

Telecommunications research at CSIRO

At the beginning of 1995, Terry Percival was appointed the Director of the CSIRO’s Telecommunications Engineering Initiative (TEI). In this role he was responsible for the establishment and running of a large number of cross-disciplinary and cross-Divisional research projects in mobile and broadband telecommunications. In 2001, he led the formation of the Centre for Networking Technologies for the Information Economy which was a collaboration of five organisations whose contributions when combined with government funding of $14 million resulted in a $44 million project. CeNTIE rolled out a prototype national broadband network connecting 18 nodes from Sydney to Canberra, Melbourne and Perth at 1 Gbit/s or higher. This project proved technologies for fibre to the premise and created a number of new applications of broadband technology. These included the creation of collaborative networks for the film post-production industry, virtual reality surgical training, distance education and tele-health. This also created the Virtual Critical Care Unit, a system that allowed connection between Blue Mountains and Nepean hospitals, this was commissioned in December 2003 and has been so successful in saving lives and improving health care that is was licensed to Telstra and just been extended to Lithgow Hospital. CeNTIE was so successful that it received a $10 million extension from the Commonwealth.

Research management at NICTA

Terry Percival left CSIRO in 2004 and joined NICTA as Director of the fledgling Sydney Laboratory. Since then he has built up a vibrant research laboratory and has guided the development of two highly successful start-up companies and many industry collaborations. One company, Open Kernel Labs, is selling NICTA’s microkernel operating system which is used in many Smartphones and has a market penetration of over 300 million devices. The other spinout has developed digital audio networking technology which has been licensed to the world’s top professional audio equipment manufacturers including Dolby and Bosch. He has also led the collaboration with the NSW Roads and Traffic Authority in developing new traffic control technologies which is now being trailed at major intersections. In 2007, he was appointed Managing Laboratory Director for a two-year term.


2007 Graduate of the Australian Institute of Company Directors
1985 Doctor of Philosophy in Electrical Engineering, University of Sydney
1977 Bachelor of Electrical Engineering, Honours Class 1, University of Sydney

Honours and awards


2012 Fellow, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering


2007 Member Minister Coonan’s Broadband Blueprint Industry Reference Group
2002 Nortel Networks special achievement award for 10 G Ethernet pilot
2000 CSIRO 2000 Medal for Research Leadership
1982 Norman I Price Fellowship
1979 Girling Watson Travelling Scholarship
1977 VM Brooker Memorial Prize for Undergraduate Thesis

Summary of positions held

  • Managing Laboratory Director: National ICT Australia (NICTA)Director: Centre for Networking Technologies for the Information Economy (CeNTIE)
  • Conjoint Professor: School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications UNS
  • Chief Research Scientist: CSIRO Division of Telecommunications and Industrial Physics
  • Director Telecommunications Engineering Initiative: CSIRO Radiophysics
  • Visiting Professor, School of Electronics: Macquarie University Project Leader WLAN Project: CSIRO Radiophysics
  • Research Manager Satellite Communications Group: OTC Pty Ltd
  • Research Manager IC Design: OTC Pty Ltd
  • Research Scientist Time and Frequency: National Measurement Laboratory, CSIRO
  • Research Engineer: Australia Telescope National Facility, CSIRO
  • Research Assistant: Fleurs Radio Observatory University of Sydney
  • Visiting Engineer: Very Large Array Telescope (VLA), New Mexico.