Feeds

NBN Co pulls in new CTO, CFO

Roundup: C-suite complete, speeds slapped, timing slips

Boost IT visibility and business value

NBN Co, which has completed its executive makeover, with a new CTO and CFO, is embroiled in a revival of an old debate: whether “up to” descriptions of broadband speeds are permissible in consumer law.

Fuelling conspiracy theories about the NBN is the appointment of News Limited veteran Stephen Rue as CFO, while far less controversial is the head-hunting of Dennis Steiger from Shaw Communications in Canada to act as CTO.

Steiger replaces the well-regarded Gary McLaren as CTO; McLaren was part of the “old guard” that has been cleaned out under CEO Bill Morrow's management restructure. His experience at Shaw is strongly aligned with HFC rollouts.

Now that the new management team is almost complete – recruitment specialists are still looking for someone to take on NBN Co's C-level media and investor relations poisoned chalice – it'll be set to work fending off the accusation that it's going to let retailers oversell service speeds.

In a revival of a debate that's ground on over the years, Senator Stephen Conroy has asked the ACCC whether VDSL services sold as “up to” a given speed increment – be it 50 Mbps or 100 Mbps – could be regarded as misleading.

In a Senate Estimates hearing on June 4, Conroy asked ACCC chair Rod Sims whether a retailer “determines that it can deliver a VDSL service of, say, 38 Mbps to an end user, would it be appropriate for the provider to market that product as an ‘up to 100 Mbps’ service?”

Sims agreed that such a sales practise would be regarded as misleading.

The issue wouldn't have arisen, but for NBN Co shipping a discussion paper in April to its retailers that suggested retail service providers would be able to use “up to” speed descriptions in their marketing. Conroy emphasised the point by reading from the discussion paper in his exchange with Sims.

Given that the ACCC has repeatedly – in 2007, 2009 and 2011 – issued guidance papers about broadband speed claims, and has prosecuted carriers like TPG and Optus over this issue, Sims could hardly say otherwise.

Exactly why NBN Co chose “up to” as a form of words is harder to understand. The issue could hardly be news among a senior management team that's largely drawn from the Australian telecommunications industry.

It seems at least feasible that in trying to position the politically-mandated multi-technology model, NBN Co is trying to avoid the feeling, by customers on copper tails, that they're getting short-changed compared to fibre premises.

However, with NBN Co candid that it will guarantee nothing beyond 25 Mbps, re-opening debate about reasonable speed claims seems a Connerie-vian misstep.

Senate Estimates hasn't been a happy hunting ground for NBN Co recently. Late last week, as it became clear that the timing of a renegotiated NBN Co / Telstra deal is slipping, it also emerged that NBN Co is having trouble finding the electricity needed to power street nodes in at least one FTTN trial site, in Epping in Victoria.

JB Rousselot, Chief Strategy Officer of NBN Co, told last week's hearing there is no “fixed date” for NBN Co to reach a new deal with Telstra, but that the two parties were negotiating in a spirit of “goodwill”.

The original deal, under which Telstra would hand off customer connections to the NBN fibre and decommission its copper, was worth $AU11 billion NPV to Telstra. Renegotiation was originally identified as a priority by communications minister Malcolm Turnbull when the government took office last September. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Munich considers dumping Linux for ... GULP ... Windows!
Give a penguinista a hug, the Outlook's not good for open source's poster child
UK fuzz want PINCODES on ALL mobile phones
Met Police calls for mandatory passwords on all new mobes
e-Borders fiasco: Brits stung for £224m after US IT giant sues UK govt
Defeat to Raytheon branded 'catastrophic result'
Yes, but what are your plans if a DRAGON attacks?
Local UK gov outs most ridiculous FoI requests...
Detroit losing MILLIONS because it buys CHEAP BATTERIES – report
Man at hardware store was right: name brands DO last longer
Snowden on NSA's MonsterMind TERROR: It may trigger cyberwar
Plus: Syria's internet going down? That was a US cock-up
UK government accused of hiding TRUTH about Universal Credit fiasco
'Reset rating keeps secrets on one-dole-to-rule-them-all plan', say MPs
Caught red-handed: UK cops, PCSOs, specials behaving badly… on social media
No Mr Fuzz, don't ask a crime victim to be your pal on Facebook
EU justice chief blasts Google on 'right to be forgotten'
Don't pretend it's a freedom of speech issue – interim commish
prev story

Whitepapers

Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Solving today's distributed Big Data backup challenges
Enable IT efficiency and allow a firm to access and reuse corporate information for competitive advantage, ultimately changing business outcomes.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.