Conroy cuts the crap on sewer broadband

At the launch of Macquarie Telecom's new customer service centre in Sydney today, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wished Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman good luck with his proposal to build a fibre network through Brisbane sewers.

At the launch of Macquarie Telecom's new customer service centre in Sydney today, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy wished Brisbane Lord Mayor Campbell Newman good luck with his proposal to build a fibre network through Brisbane sewers.

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(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)

"The thing about sewer pipes is sometimes they get blocked and you've got to put an eel through them; that'll work well for fibre," he joked.

"It has been done in other countries, successfully," he said. "If the Lord Mayor wants to invest in a rival National Broadband Network for a bit of political grandstanding, good luck to him."

Conroy officially opened the new $5 million Macquarie Telecom customer service centre, called the MacquarieHUB, in Sydney today with the assistance of NSW Treasurer Eric Roozendaal. The new centre has a local staff of 40 employees. At the launch today, Macquarie Telecom CEO David Tudehope highlighted the company's decision to hire locally rather than outsourcing, and said the company had reviewed over 1000 applications for positions in the hub before selecting 40 people on "personality" over practical experience. Tudehope said Macquarie Telecom had deliberately selected people without a background in call centres or the telecommunications industry.

"Staff at the MacquarieHUB have been selected because they have the customer service gene," he said. "Our business focus means our customers talk to service professionals who understand the needs of business."

"Macquarie Telecom is investing locally and creating skilled jobs for Australia at a time when business and other telecommunications and hosting companies are cutting costs and offshoring customer service centres," he said. "We have learnt that outsourced providers can't look after our customers in the same way we can."

The new centre will operate 24/7, 365 days a year with the new staff given six weeks of training prior to the launch. Macquarie Telecom currently employs 400 staff around Australia.

Commenting on the opening, Conory said, "Today's launch is a testament to Macquarie Telecom's commitment to delivering world-class customer service. MacquarieHUB is a win for businesses because they get to speak with customer service professionals who know their telecommunications trade and who know, importantly, how to deal with people. I congratulate Macquarie Telecom on its new customer service centre and encourage other hosting and telecommunications providers to follow Macquarie Telecom's lead."

On the question on whether the mandatory internet filtering legislation would be put through Parliament before the next federal election, Conroy said it was a "hypothetical question" he could not answer, but said he expected the legislation to be in before December this year.

"Sooner rather than later. If you're thinking 'does that mean December?', no I wouldn't think it would be December, but there could be intervening events which I could not be in control of," he said.

Conroy said the "shaping" issues surrounding the legislation mentioned by Prime Minister Julia Gillard this morning refer to consultation around "accountability and transparency measures", which he has mentioned previously.

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