Barrett Communications buys HAL Corp.

Dec. 14, 2012 at 12:05 AM
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CANBERRA, Australia, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Australia's Barrett Communications has acquired, for an undisclosed sum, all shares of HAL Communications Corp., with headquarters in Urbana, Ill.

HAL was set up in 1972 to develop, manufacture and market hardware and software data communication products used in high-frequency radio networks that cover large geographic areas.

Barrett, with headquarters in Perth, Western Australia, will operate HAL as a stand-alone business and will use it as the foundation for further growth, a brief statement from Barrett said.

Barrett Managing Director Greg O'Neill said Barrett has been looking closely at suitable acquisitions for some time.

"We believe that HAL will complement our existing business and provide opportunities for expansion in a wide range of markets," he said.

This month Barrett announced that it had received certification and approval from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an executive agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The approval means Barrett's 2050 HF transceiver, Barrett 2020 email, fax and data system and the Barrett 2060 HF telephone are deemed officially interoperable within the North American market.

The approval also completes the North American interoperability approvals needed for the full Barrett Communications 2000 series transceiver range.

Sales of Barrett's 2050 mobile transceivers were the subject of intense media speculation in Australia in early 2010. Reports alleged the units had been sold to the Myanmar military despite sanctions at the time.

Barrett denied the reports and denied other reports that the units are capable of frequency hopping, which would make them especially useful in the field for locking onto enemy radio calls.

Australian media also claimed the radios have encryption-style frequency-hopping technology that makes it impossible for other organizations to monitor the military's communications. If they did have that technology, they would need an export license from the Department of Defense, a company statement said.

Philip Bradshaw, managing director of Barrett Communications, "reacted angrily" to the reports, saying that in 2009 and previously in 2005 and 2006, "we sent around 50 radio sets to Burma (Myanmar)."

But Bradshaw denied reports that they were sold to the ruling Myanmar military. He said Barrett has sold only commercial radios to the country.

"Our company never sold any military equipment to the Burmese regime and never will," Bradshaw said, citing sanctions against the then military government.

Australian National University intelligence expert Desmond Ball had claimed that Barrett 2050 radios were being used at a high level by Myanmar army commands and they had both encryption and frequency-hopping functions.

'I have been present when communications using Barrett 2050 transmitters have been received and can assure you they are being used in both encrypted and frequency-hopping modes,'' he said.

He also said that it was possible the sets had been sold on by an intermediary to the military and modified after being received in Myanmar.

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