Professor Reg Coutts, former ACS South Australian Branch Chair, ICT leader and NBN advocate, passed over the weekend.

Along with serving as SA Branch Chair between 2007 and 2010, Professor Coutts was nominated in 2005 as an ACS Fellow in recognition of his outstanding contributions in the field of digital communications within Telstra, academia and industry.

Jason Goodridge, MACS CP and former SA Branch Chair, paid tribute to Professor Coutts, saying "Reg was a unique presence in any room, knowledgeable, courageous in speaking his mind, possessing a sharp wit and seemingly unlimited generosity with his time.

“He was a part of many defining moments in my career, and I know this to be true of countless others within the ICT industry.

“Always pragmatic and thinking about the big-picture, Reg was an innovator and a mentor. On a personal level, I will miss Reg's guidance and encouragement. The ICT industry has lost a tireless contributor and role-model for professionalism.

“Vale Reginald Coutts, you will be missed."

A long time member of the Labor Party and a resident of the Adelaide Hills, Professor Coutts ran as the ALP’s candidate in the 2018 Mayo by-election. Local radio station, Power FM wrote earlier this week Professor Coutts had been battling cancer for 18 months until he died on Sunday morning, with his wife of 42 years, Pam, and daughter Louise by his side.

Professor Coutts was a pioneer in the field of digital and mobile communications technologies in Australia. He established the Centre for Telecommunications Information Networking (CITN) at the University of Adelaide and led the development of other major initiatives, including the Smart Internet CRC, m.Net Corporation, and Innovation Lab Australia.

Graduating with a B.Sc., B.E.(Hon) and a PhD in Engineering from the University of Adelaide, Professor Coutts joined the Telecom Research Laboratory in Melbourne in 1976 working on radiocommunications.

Professor Coutts moved from the Labs to the Telstra Mobile Business Unit for five years from 1988 to make a substantial contribution to planning and rolling out the company’s mobile networks. In 1993, he was appointed Professor in Telecommunications at the University of Adelaide, with the brief of commercialising the university’s relevant research.

In 2008, the Rudd Government invited him to sit on the NBN Expert Panel evaluating the first round of bids to build a national broadband network. The following year he was appointed as a Member of the Australian Communications and Media Authority for a five-year term.

In addition to his ACS honours, Professor Coutts was a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Engineers (IEAust) and a Senior Member of the American Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineering (SMIEEE). In 2018 he was inducted into the Pearcey Hall of Fame, and in 2020 was appointed a life member of Telsoc which he had served as President for 14 years from 2016.

ACS offers our heartfelt condolences to Professor Coutts’ family and friends.