Friday Five: Telstra’s Hugh Bradlow


Every Friday we’ll profile a prominent figure from Australia’s IT, telecommunications or video gaming industries in the Friday Five.

Telstra chief technology officer Hugh Bradlow is clearly a geek. With a degree in nuclear physics and a penchant for joking about throwing his laptop at staff, he’s also one of the most colourful personalities in Australia’s telecommunications scene — he always says what he thinks. Bradlow is our guest on this week’s Friday Five.

1. What was your first job ever?

After finishing a D.Phil at Oxford in Nuclear Physics, I became a control systems engineer for ICI (British Multinational Chemical Company) in England, designing computerised control systems for their new polymer plant.

2. What do you most like about working in the telco industry?

Besides the variety and depth of the technology challenge, I like the immediacy the impact of our output has on the lives of people in all facets of their lives — work, play and entertainment.

3. What’s your hobby?

Technoloqy! I love using new technology and making it work – it is like an endless jigsaw puzzle! As technology improves to the point where it is no longer challenging to get the maximum benefit out of it, I think I need to find a new hobby!

4. Where do you think the Australian telco industry will be in five years?

I believe that the services delivered by telcos to users in 5 years time will be starting to look completely different. Telephony will have begun the journey of morphing from POTS into multimedia interpersonal communications. The distinction between fixed and mobile will be much more blurred – for both telephony and data services and even for video services – with all services becoming part of a continuous whole moving from device to device according to user convenience.

So-called M2M (machine-to-machine) services will have become commonplace, with everything – your car, your camera, your cat, your bag, your house, your body – having a modem in it which is constantly monitoring, reporting and transferring data into the cloud. And, of course, most data – whether personal or work – will be stored in the cloud and cached on your local device. Mobile networks will be delivering peak speeds in excess of 100Mbps, as will fixed networks.

The difference will be the volume of data that can be delivered to the user. Movies and TV will be delivered in High Definition on-demand and from anywhere in the world. Our house will have networks that allow us to seamlessly flick the TV (delivered on-demand) from one room to the other or to a mobile phone. And finally, we shall all be accessing the Internet from our mobile handset as well as our PC’s.

5. What/who has been the biggest inspiration in your career?

This is a tough question as I have learnt so much from so many people. However, the answer is clearly my wife. She has taught me, and constantly reminded me, that all this technology is just a means to an end and the end is people – it is about leaving a trail of people who feel that their story has been listened to (and pointing out that there is always “a story”) and that you have made some sort of difference to some of their lives.

Image credit: Telstra


  1. Ah, good on you Hugh, giving credit to your wife. You may be the hard man of telco technology but she clearly gets to see the caramello side of you.

    I also liked this line: “it is about leaving a trail of people who feel that their story has been listened to and that you have made some sort of difference to some of their lives.”

    Couldn’t be more different than the Trujillo, Winn and Burgess triumverate — I’d say they were adept at “leaving a trail of people”, and that’s about it.

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