When a vacuum becomes vacuous

Summary:The silence clinging to Stephen Conroy's National Broadband Network deliberations may have fried some brains in Australia's telecommunications industry.

commentary The silence clinging to Stephen Conroy's National Broadband Network deliberations may have fried some brains in Australia's telecommunications industry.

Suzanne Tindal

ZDNet.com.au reporter Suzanne Tindal (Credit: ZDNet.com.au)

After dialling my fingers sore last week making calls to people who might know about the truth of the speculation that Acacia was the front runner for the National Broadband Network, I received some feedback that it was definitely the going rumour but that they wouldn't write a story about it, since there was no real source for the speculation.

Everyone is busy reading omens from chicken entrails, and this is exactly what I think this particular piece of speculation is.

Others shook their heads, saying they hadn't heard anything and some just laughed.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, amused as always at the speculation, wasn't ready to comment.

Next Gen Networks CEO Phil Sykes, whose company is owned by Leighton, which speculation has put as having a supportive role to the bid Acacia, said his company wasn't formally engaged with any of the bidders and had not been formally approached by any of them.

"We all had a bit of a chuckle when we saw it," he told ZDNet.com.au with regards to the Acacia speculation.

Despite saying that he wouldn't mind if Acacia did build the NBN, since the SingTel subsidiary could then concentrate on the services it would provide over the access layer, Optus government and corporate affairs director Maha Krishnapillai didn't pay the rumour much heed either.

"Last week it was Axia, this week it was Acacia, next week it'll be Optus," he said.

Acacia naturally won't comment on the truth of the rumours, but one source said the leaders of the bid were surprised when they heard of it. Of course, executives can have very good poker faces.

We can't forget Conroy's mention last week of 100 per cent national broadband coverage, as opposed to his normal 98 per cent line in Senate debate, but perhaps he was just including the Australian Broadband Guarantee. And adding this little gem to the fact that Acacia does reputedly have the savvy and the cash as well as other misty factors to create irrefutable proof the company was the winning bidder might be adding one plus two to make 50, as one source said.

One person said he'd received calls from all bidders asking for the gossip on the others. Translation as far as I'm concerned: no one knows anything, or if they do they're incredibly good at dissembling.

As Department secretary Patricia Scott said at the ATUG conference two weeks ago, everyone is busy reading omens from chicken entrails, and this is exactly what I think this particular piece of speculation is.

If the speculation turns out to be right, I still think it would have been guesswork rather than someone in the know spilling the beans. With no prior knowledge, any betting man has a 33.3 per cent chance of winning, which isn't bad.

Topics: NBN, Broadband, Optus, Telcos

About

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for t... Full Bio

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