iiNet founder Michael Malone takes nbn chair

Fibre-to-the-node backer replaces fibre-to-the-premises enthusiast Simon Hackett

nbn, the entity building and operating Australia's national broadband network, has announced a new board member.

Michael Malone, the founder of internet service provider (ISP) iiNet, is the new board member. He replaces Simon Hackett, a founder of ISP Internode that iiNet acquired in 2011.

Hacket resigned so he can dedicated himself to his listed battery venture Redflow.

Malone resigned from iiNet in 2014 and has picked up some directorships since. iiNet distinguished itself among Australian ISPs with an extensive build of its own ADSL DSLAMs and an unusually large investment in customer service. He'll bring good network build experience and a retailer's eye to the board. Perhaps more importantly, Malone grew iiNet from a garage operation to an outfit with a million customers and a diverse product portfolio, experience nbn can surely use.

Perhaps most importantly, Malone is on the record as supporting fibre to the node instead of fibre to the premises. Hackett is on the record as saying fibre to the node “sucks” but must be borne.

Malone's position obviously endears him to Australia's government. For the many continuing to press for the multi-technology mix policy to be abandoned in favour of technologies that bring optical fibre closer to homes, Malone's appointment may well be bittersweet.

The canned statements from nbn and communications minister Mitch Fifield tick all the usual boxes: Malone is a great fit who will only enhance nbn's prospects, Hackett made a contribution for which he must be thanked. ®

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