The G9 consortium announced the appointment of former NSW state Treasurer Michael Egan as its national broadband network (NBN) bid chairman, amid mounting concern over the July deadline for proposals.
Egan's appointment was announced this morning by Primus Telecom Australia CEO, Ravi Bhatia, claiming it was a unanimous decision.
"Egan will take up the appointment immediately and together with Michael Simmons, the recently appointed Managing Director of G9's NBN project, will lead the development of our bid and submission documents," Bhatia said.
The announcement comes after it was revealed that Telstra is one step closer to having to hand over details of its entire network infrastructure to rivals in the bid for the national network, after the Federal Senate passed a bill late yesterday which would legally oblige the national carrier to do so.
"It's vitally important that [the NBN] enhances, rather than diminishes, competition in the provision of communication services," said Egan in a statement.
"Australia can't afford to have a national broadband network that leads to an effective monopoly and sky-high broadband prices," he added.
Both revelations come amidst growing concern over the 25 July deadline for bid proposals, with Australian Telecommunications Users Group (ATUG) CEO Rosemary Sinclair today expressing her dissatisfaction with the time frame.
"The time frame is very tight for such a major project, and Telstra released what ended up being limited network information only last week ... I think it's a real worry.
"A similar national network put in place in Singapore gave 12 months for bidders to respond ... Senator Conroy might argue that that was done last year, but it's still a tight schedule for a formal process," said ATUG CEO Sinclair.
Liberal Senator Simon Birmingham also made clear his apprehension regarding the bid process in Parliament yesterday, saying "potential bidders are having to wait, they're having to guess, they're having to second guess what information may be there and they will have to scramble at the end of the process to try and get their proposals together in time".
Communications Minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, who refused to extend the deadline after various requests, hit back at Birmingham, describing him as the "new senator for Optus".
Speculation has arisen that Optus's Singapore-based parent company, SingTel would lodge a bid for the network, after SingTel group CEO Chua Sock Koong told a press conference yesterday that the telco giant would "consider" making a bid of its own.