NBN Co CEO tests waters for broadband study

NBN Co CEO tests waters for broadband study

Summary: NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley has endorsed the possibility of the Australian communications industry evaluating both the Coalition and Labor's broadband policies.

TOPICS: NBN, Australia

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley has signalled support for a Communications Alliance-led study into the different potential broadband rollouts in Australia, to help inform what he said has become a "serious debate" over the National Broadband Network (NBN) project.

Mike Quigley
(Image: Josh Taylor/ZDNet)

In a wide-ranging speech delivered at an American Chamber of Commerce lunch in Sydney on Friday, Quigley went through the pros and cons of the different sorts of technologies that are currently being debated in the public arena ahead of the 2013 federal election: fibre to the premises (FttP), fibre to the node (FttN), hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC), fixed wireless, and satellite.

He said it is good that the country is having a debate on the best technological method of delivering telecommunications infrastructure in Australia. He said that such a debate should be led by industry group the Communications Alliance, of which NBN Co sits on the board with a number of other telecommunications companies.

"The telecommunications industry itself is uniquely well placed to provide valuable context to policy choices and their impacts on this industry and its customers," he said.

"It is for this reason that NBN Co welcomes and supports a study that is being considered by the Communications Alliance into the potential pros and cons of a range of policy and technology options and their future impact on the National Broadband Network."

Quigley told journalists after the event that he had approached the Comms Alliance with the idea a number of weeks ago, and that it is still in the process of consideration.

"It's very important in making these big decisions that the industry speaks up," he said.

"I wouldn't say it is too late. The decision the elected government of the day made is to build a future network for the next 50, 60, 70 years. The fact that that is debated now, and it is a serious debate, I think says, if it is really a serious debate ... then it is time [for] the industry to facilitate that."

Quigley said he would expect such a study to be completed within the next few months.

"I think what would happen is you'd get the issues on the table in a transparent and open way," he said. "Decisions are made based on good data and facts."

But the proposal has already come under fire from Australia's second largest telco, and Comms Alliance member Optus, with the company's vice president of corporate and regulatory affairs David Epstein saying it should be left to individual companies to debate the various technologies.

"Optus believes a public debate regarding various broadband technologies is best left for individual companies to contribute to rather than a Comms Alliance review," he said in a statement.

Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who is in favour of an FttN rollout in many places, has frequently criticised the government for not undertaking a formal cost-benefit analysis to determine the best technology for Australia. Although the Comms Alliance has not indicated whether this study would be a thorough cost-benefit analysis, Quigley said that NBN Co would offer to make all financial information it could available to the study.

"We've offered to make any information available, and we're doing that progressively except for two conditions. One: Where it is really commercially sensitive information, in other words where we have contracts or we know that in two years' time, we're going to renew contracts, and the cost for that particular contract, if we put it in the public domain, it would frankly prejudice our ongoing negotiations. Or we don't yet have [a] sufficient sample size to be confident we can say this is what we had in the corporate plan, this is now what we're experiencing on the basis of what we're doing," he said.

NBN Co would also make its view known. Quigley told journalists that NBN Co, for example, didn't consider buying Telstra's copper access network from the company, because it would be difficult to come in as a third-party provider and separate out Telstra's existing network.

"This is why you need the industry opining on these issues," he said.

"You can't just say 'let's buy the copper'. It's not that easy. It's bloody difficult."

Turnbull has an open invitation to meet with Quigley, but the shadow minister must follow protocol for speaking with an employee of a government business enterprise, and organise the meeting through the minister. Quigley said that outside of the joint parliamentary committee on the NBN, he has not met with Turnbull, but said he is open to such a meeting.

"We will talk to anybody who would like to talk to us," he said.

Topics: NBN, Australia


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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  • This explains Turnbulls latest hissy fit. No doubt he fears the outcome. Quigley certainly doesn't. That said I doubt this study will tell us anything we didn't already know however that won't stop the religious anti-NBN zealots from cherry picking the data that suits their agenda with FttN cheerleader Turnbull at the helm.
    Hubert Cumberdale
    • LOL

      One has to pity anyone who is too stupid to comprehend this for what it is and somehow tries to read some strange anti-NBN BS into it, don't you think HC...?

      Quigley obviously wants an external source to confirm what everyone except the Coalition knows, that considering the Telstra factor in relation the FttN and inevitable upgrades required, the superiority in all aspects of FttP and everything else we have discussed... that FttP is the best solution...

      And having it come from a source other than NBNCo, means, there can't be any arguments about bias. Well rational arguments any way... so I guess nothing will change from the mindless doomsdayers, will it :/
  • Not his job

    Quigley is the head of a government business enterprise. His job is to implement government policy. Whoever the government is. He ought to keep out of politics. He clearly doesn't understand his role is different in that essential way to the head of a private business where the guy at the top's job is to provide the policy vision. He's in a job now where he believes in a certain direction, and he's afraid that the people above him who believe in the same direction are going to get thrown out and replaced with people who have a quite different idea of what the right direction is, so he playing politics by trying manipulate the situation to create one where the winners of the next election will be forced to continue the losers policy by a group of "experts" he has chosen because he can be sure of the results they'll produce recommending it. This is something that should guarantee the incoming government sacks him for taking political sides.

    What he and all those "experts" that back his vision, whether they are "right" or not, need to understand is that something as big and expensive to other people as a national high speed broadband network needs to have other success and design criteria other than being the technical best. For example Kate Lundy said just the other day her success criteria for it would be how universal it is. And universal requires it being cheap enough that poor people can afford it, which it can't be if the #1 design criteria is being super fast.
    Gordon D
    • "This is something that should guarantee the incoming government sacks him for taking political sides."

      LOL. Quigley calls for an unbiased study on different broadband technologies (remember "technology agnostic") that has nothing to do with politics and he should be sacked by "the incoming government" (whatever that means) for taking political sides?

      "And universal requires it being cheap enough that poor people can afford it, which it can't be if the #1 design criteria is being super fast."

      Hubert Cumberdale
    • Mr 2mbps is good enough

      "And universal requires it being cheap enough that poor people can afford it, which it can't be if the #1 design criteria is being super fast."

      I'd suggest the current NBN (which is proving more affordable that the current lesser alternate networks) is much more affordable than...

    • Amazing is it not?

      Gordon, notice how Hubert, RS, Karl (secretly the Power Rangers) would peel the skin off anyone that suggested that something short of FttH could be adequate?

      Now that Quigley moves to cover his future by hinting that FttH may in fact not be the universal answer to the Power Rangers wet dreams he is right! and that his sudden shift in religion is ok!

      How ironic that all along when the hot and sweaty Rangers would stoutly joined their rings and shout SHAZAM! to defend their NBN castle the king was busily working his political angles and has proven that he too is a creature of the market.

      Quick Rangers! to the batmobile!
      • Err


        Quick Rangers to the batmobile :/

        Sums up your complete stupidity in one line.
        • RS

          Make your argument. Is Quigley right or wrong?
          You have been so vocal when attacking alternative points of view, now comes the opportunity to defend your messiah.

          FttH or something else? Why does Quigley raise the subject now?

          Lets hear your wisdom for a change instead of your bullshit.
          • You are an Opel fanboy, your opinion is not valid, it is null & void. Sorry, but you do not count in this debate.
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • Hooby

            Make the argument...........waiting
          • Lazy argumentum ad hominem

            It seems RS-ef540 and Hubert Cumberdale often make claims such as 'your opinion is not valid', 'you do not count in this debate' etc. In their mind a debate is where everybody agrees with them and where it is perfectly reasonable for arguments to be countered by silly name calling. How pathetic.
          • Oh look

            Anither n00b who seems to know us, how convenient.

            Obviously yet another Sultanabran alias *sigh*
          • "reasonable for arguments to be countered by silly name calling. How pathetic."

            What's really pathetic is that you totally ignored the events this comment section and due to your own bias instead of making a "reasonable argument" took the opportunity to cristise us instead.
            Hubert Cumberdale
          • It's ok choogo

            I think HC is the red power ranger, he is my favourite. The other one is just annoying.
          • Dream on Folks.

            And the Gillard Government will triumph at the next election, six thousand hook-ups a day will occur and there a fairies at the bottom of the garden. Dream on Hubert.
          • So...

            What has that got to do with the merits of the different kinds of technologies, we are discussing?

            As usual Sydney you want whatever is best for your TLS shares and if that means damming everyone else to mediocrity in relatuon to comms, so be it...
          • "Dream on Hubert."

            Dream on what exactly? I think everyone in favor of the NBN has accepted the possibility that the coalition of clowns could win and implement their gimped version of it (hence the debate) The big question remains however sydney can you accept it being built as planned? Go on tell us, give us some insight on just how reasonable you are.
            Hubert Cumberdale
        • "Sums up your complete stupidity in one line."

          Quite scary if you think about it RS. Not only is he an Opel fanboy but apparently watches power rangers too... I guess I shouldn't be surprised at this stage.
          Hubert Cumberdale
          • Make your argument

          • Still Waiting


            FTTH or something a study uncovers? As stated by the 'God' himself.

            (and I for one dont see any conflict that his ex employer was awarded the first major tech contract for the NBN)

            Nor do I see the slumped glass display in the NBN reception in North Sydeny area as an 'execessive wank'.

            Just make the argument..............



            and still we wait. Come on Power Rangers get those rings together LOL!