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Telstra's Justin Milne quits

The long-time leader of Telstra's BigPond internet service provider division and current fixed line chief, Justin Milne, has reportedly resigned.
Written by Renai LeMay, Contributor

The long-time leader of Telstra's BigPond internet service provider division, Justin Milne, has resigned.

Justin Milne

Justin Milne (Credit: Telstra)

Telstra confirmed the departure of its group managing director Voice, Broadband and Media this morning in a media release, saying the executive had "decided to leave Telstra to pursue other opportunities". His last day in the office was to be 1 June. J-B Rousselot, who has been with the company for six years, would fill Milne's role.

"Justin decided that now was the right time to explore new challenges and we wish him all the best as he moves into the next phase of his career," Telstra chief executive David Thodey said in a statement. "Justin has been a strong contributor to Telstra on internet-related issues".

Milne has been one of the telco's best-known executives, having led its BigPond ISP division since 2002. He was previously the chief executive of one of the company's largest rivals, early internet giant OzEmail, and before that was managing director of the Microsoft Network in Australia.

For a time the executive's role also saw him working closely with his wife — Anna Cicognani — whose last title at BigPond was reported as operational capability director, although her LinkedIn profile lists that role as director of operations and technology at BigPond.

Currently Cicognani is Fairfax Digital's chief product officer. Like Milne, she had also worked at OzEmail.

It hasn't been completely plain sailing for Milne at BigPond, although he has steered the ISP through a period where it and many other rivals in the industry rapidly and massively expanded their operations due to the speedy uptake of ADSL broadband over the past 10 years.

In the late 1990's it was HFC cable that was hyped as the solution to bringing Australia fast broadband — but it ended up being DSLAMs rolled out at Telstra's exchanges — by the telco as well as its rivals — that brought broadband to the masses.

That explosion of broadband also saw BigPond make some controversial moves on Milne's watch — such as a 2004 retail pricing change that saw the company eventually slapped with a competition notice by Australia's competition regulator.

Milne was promoted to the level of group managing director of BigPond when the telco's then-chief executive Sol Trujillo stepped on board in 2005 &mdah; but Milne can't have had an easy time several years later when Trujillo integrated BigPond into Telstra's central operation, sacking 800 staff along the way and setting up Milne as head of Telstra's new Media division.

In November last year, however, after senior Telstra executive David Thodey took the CEO reins in the wake of Trujillo's departure, Milne was shifted back into what must have been a more familiar role as head of Telstra's fixed line products.

Unlike Thodey and a number of other Telstra executives such as CFO John Stanhope and former mobiles chief David Moffatt, Milne has never been seen as a contender for the CEO role. However, he has for the past decade and more been a very familiar face to those in Australia's ISP industry.

In one recent initiative, he publicly supported iiNet in its court case against the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.

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