NBN Co CEO to retire

NBN Co CEO to retire

Summary: NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley has announced that he will step down from leading the Australian government-owned company and return to retirement.


NBN Co's first and only CEO Mike Quigley announced on Friday that he will retire from corporate life after four years at the helm of the Australian government-owned company charged with rolling out the AU$37.4 billion National Broadband Network (NBN).

(Image: Josh Taylor/ZDNet)

The company today released a statement saying that Quigley will continue to serve as CEO until a replacement is found.

Quigley, who was appointed as CEO in 2009 when the company was first created by the government to roll fibre out to 93 percent of premises across Australia, said he has set up the foundations for the company for the next 30 years.

"That job is largely complete. NBN Co is now a well-established wholesale telecommunications company with a nationwide workforce, delivery partners, infrastructure agreements, complex IT systems and more than 40 retail customers, which are supplying fast, reliable, and affordable broadband to a growing number of Australians," he said.

Quigley said the next CEO will need to build on these foundations and work closely with the construction and telecommunications industries.

"I joined NBN Co because I believed better telecommunications was central to Australia's ongoing success. I still believe that today. The ramp-up in construction and the news last week that the company had passed more than 200,000 premises with fibre gives me further confidence that the NBN build can be delivered by 2021 in line with the projections in the company’s corporate plan."

There had been reports that NBN Co chairperson Siobhan McKenna had been looking to replace Quigley amid ongoing controversy over delays in construction of the network.

McKenna today said NBN Co had been fortunate to have Quigley as its CEO.

"His intellect, tenacity, and knowledge of telecommunications products and network architecture have taken NBN Co from a policy vision to a successful operating entity."

In a joint release from Communications Minister Anthony Albanese and Finance Minister Penny Wong, the government thanked Quigley for his time with the company.

"Mr Quigley came out of retirement to head NBN Co. He was eager to join the project because he understood the importance of nation-building infrastructure that is essential for our nation's economic future," the ministers said.

"Mr Quigley also understands, intuitively, what all good infrastructure builders know: You do it once and you do it right."

The ministers said Quigley was instrumental in negotiating the AU$11 billion deal with Telstra to structurally separate and shift customers from the legacy fixed-line copper access network and hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network onto the NBN.

"Mr Quigley can be tremendously proud of what he has achieved. On behalf of the government and the Australian people, we wish to thank Mike Quigley for helping build the infrastructure Australia needs for the 21st century."

Quigley often came under criticism from Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who said that Quigley was not an appropriate choice for the role.

Prior to joining NBN Co, Quigley spent 36 years with telecommunications vendor Alcatel-Lucent, but had retired in 2007.

Turnbull initially sought to dredge up old allegations of bribery at Alcatel-Lucent, before he then shifted his attack to say that while Quigley had experience at a telecommunications vendor, he was not experienced in rolling out a network the size of the NBN, and that inexperience had caused the NBN to set unrealistic milestones and fostered a "culture of gold-plating" within the company.

Although Quigley will remain as CEO until his replacement is found, Turnbull today claimed that NBN Co was now "leaderless".

"Mr Quigley has not been pushed out because he’s been doing a good job. He’s been pushed out of this company because it has not succeeded in meeting its targets." he said in Darwin.

Turnbull said the network rollout was a "classic case of Labor mismanagement" that was the fault of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd who devised the project during his first stint as prime minister.

NBN Co will hold a telephone conference with journalists at 2pm AEST today on Quigley's decision to retire.

More to come.

Topic: NBN


Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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  • Thanks Mr Quigley

    Hopefully the next CEO is of the same calibre as you!
  • Well that's a shame but look at the bright side the coalition clowns can stop whining about Quigley now... something tells me Turnball is going to be very bored for the next few months. Thumb twiddling. They are used to that though;-)
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • Turnbull is a joke

      I'm certain this wealthy bean counting merchant banker who likes to invest in overseas FTTP projects must be immensely relieved at Quigley's departure. Can't have an expert contradicting him with facts about his faster/cheaper fantasies & ability to gouge the taxpayers & users with the subsidies & much higher monthly charges required to continue maintaining the obsolete copper & power all those kerbside fridges.
      Even those on FTTP would likely be paying through the nose for anything beyond the 'more than adequate 25Mbps' he decrees, allowing FTTP to become a 'Premium Service' denied to the serving classes.
  • I think Mr Quigley is

    taking the correct action in resigning.
    Yes he did get this massive project underway and that is a great achievement.
    It is time now to hand over to a boring methodical procedures driven management to push out the next stage. First thing to go should be the narrow minded adherence to a FTTP for all sites. A mixture of delivery systems makes sense for those last few hundred meters.
    Knowledge Expert
    • Narrow minded adherence

      to cost or deployment speed as a being the only considerations is equally (more?) stupid.

      This is a once in a 100 year chance to build a new network, and do it correctly. A 'mix of technologies' significantly increases the complexity of the network for exactly zero long term benefit when you take the cost and pricing structure of the NBN into account.

      You're trying to paint the argument as fiber vs mixed tech, but it's a moot point as there is already a 'mix' (Fixed Wireless, etc). The only difference is the progressive 93% fiber option preferred by Labor versus your preferred option of sinking billions into obsolete technology, carrying many of the problems with copper/ADSL into a new century.

      Just because it's not the 'easy' option doesn't mean it's the incorrect one. I'd invite you take some of your own advice and try to broaden your mind to something other than Coalition talking points when considering what the end-state of the build should look like.
      • absolute nonsense!

        once in 100 years, good grief at the speed of change of technologies who knows what will be used in 100 years. In any event I am not even sure the fibre that is being laid will last 100 years.
        Knowledge Expert
        • Is that you, Ray Charles?

          "Once in 100 years, good grief at the speed of change of technologies who knows what will be used in 100 years"

          It's an interesting thought, to be sure, although it has nothing to do with my point, which clearly stated a '100 year chance to build a network' which, as you might have noticed, is being built right now, roughly 100 years after the last (copper) network was built, and nothing to do with what might be in 2113.

          "In any event I am not even sure the fibre that is being laid will last 100 years."

          Well, my ironically named friend, here's some helpful info from two years ago, when NBN detractors were trying to make it an issue back then as well.


          And some more info:

        • "absolute nonsense! once in 100 years"

          He is right. If you roll out a FttN patchwork relying on obsolete copper the option to build a proper FttP network covering 93% like the NBN becomes more of a headache. Future bandwidth needs be dammed. FoD doesn't change that fact either btw.
          Hubert Cumberdale
  • Without Conroy's protection it was only a matter of time

    It's failure in every area by their own corp plans required some action.

    His legacy; very little fibre (much in questionable condition), wireless way behind, tens of billions of dollars owed to Optus and Telstra to not use existing infrastructure, 1/3 of fibre "premises passed" unable to order any service, 3k employees, most senior management walked away, MDUs stuck with fibre only option, every corp plan delivery target missed by a massive margin yet bonuses paid.

    Shortly after his appointment he admitted to "making several errors in public statements about his knowledge and responsibility for the [Alcatel] scandal"[theOz,20110617]

    I knew at that time Labor had found their man, not good for the rest of us.

    Josh, any golden handshake?
    Richard Flude