NBN Co loses Jim Hassell to Broadcast Australia

NBN Co has lost one of its veteran executives to Broadcast Australia, head of industry relations and product development, Jim Hassell.

Jim Hassell, NBN Co's head of industry relations and product development, will leave the government-owned company to return to his former employer, transmission network company Broadcast Australia, as its CEO in March 2013.

Jim Hassell

NBN Co's Jim Hassell.
(Credit: Josh Taylor/ZDNet)

Hassell, who joined NBN Co in May 2010 from being chief operating officer for Broadcast Australia, oversaw some of the toughest periods for the company, including the revision of the company's corporate plan and the development of its special access undertaking. The role saw him take on many battles with industry over the company's controversial pricing methodology for products on the National Broadband Network (NBN), as well as face scrutiny from members of parliament during estimates hearings and NBN inquiries.

Prior to Broadcast Australia, Hassell headed up Sun Microsystems in Australia between 2000 and 2008.

NBN Co CEO Mike Quigley thanked Hassell for his time with the company.

"He leaves the company in an excellent position to build on his achievements in developing the Wholesale Broadband Agreement and the associated negotiations with industry, which culminated in the signing up to the NBN telephone and internet service providers that represent over 95 percent of the retail market," he said in a statement.

In his place, NBN Co announced that long time Optus executive and current managing director of Corporate Development and Transformation, John Simon will take on the product and sales portion of Hassell's role beginning in 2013. Until 2010, Simon headed up Optus' business division, and he was previously employed by Telstra.

"I'm pleased to welcome John Simon to the executive team. He brings to the company a wealth of experience in telecommunications and technology strategy that will help consolidate relationships and continue to develop products that meet the requirements of our industry customers and consumers," Quigley said.

Appointing the veteran telecommunications executive comes after Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull recently claimed that the lack to telecommunications experience in the executive and board of NBN Co has led to "gold-plating" of the AU$37.4 billion network.

"In my view, this has contributed to NBN Co setting for itself milestone after unrealistic milestone that it has abjectly failed to achieve," he said at the time. "It has contributed to NBN Co's culture of gold-plating and excessive spending, because if capital is not constrained and those supervising the enterprise are not directly familiar with its task, the safest option is to choose the most costly option. And the easiest way to deal with mounting pressure and slipping schedules is to throw money at them."

To take on Hassell's industry relations tasks, Caroline Lovell, NBN Co's principal of regulatory affairs, has been appointed to the new role of head of regulatory affairs and industry analysis.

"Caroline has demonstrated outstanding leadership in her development of the long-term regulatory framework governing access to the National Broadband Network," Quigley said. "I am pleased to add her talent and expertise to the executive team."

Hassell will depart NBN Co in mid-February 2013, just one month before the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission must decide whether to accept or reject NBN Co's special access undertaking , which sets out the pricing and regulatory framework that the NBN will operate under for 30 years.


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