[LINK] Conroy's big week

David Boxall david.boxall at hunterlink.net.au
Mon Jun 29 16:50:00 EST 2009

The wheels they grind exceeding slow.

Conroy's busy network diary
Dan Oakes
June 29, 2009

THIS week is shaping up as a big test for the Minister for 
Communications, Stephen Conroy, and his gestating child, the $43 billion 
national broadband network.

As debate continues about everything from the cost of the proposed 
network to where its headquarters should be located, three milestones in 
the broadband network process will arrive at once.

It is expected that either today or tomorrow, Senator Conroy will 
announce the routes for the first stage of implementation: the $250 
million regional backbone blackspot program.

It is designed to create competition in backhaul or intermediate 
sections of the network (broadly speaking, the branches of a tree in 
which the twigs are connections to houses or businesses) in country 
areas where Telstra has a monopoly.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy 
received more than 60 submissions on the proposed blackspot program, 
which will be closely examined for holes by critics of the Government's 

The opening of a tender process for the blackspot program will also be 

The Leighton subsidiary NextGen, the owner of the third-biggest fibre 
network after Optus and Telstra, is in the box seat to play at least a 
part in the project.

Tomorrow will be significant for two reasons. Firstly, the corporate 
recruiting firm Egon Zehnder is expected to hand Senator Conroy a list 
of prospective board members for the Government-controlled company that 
will oversee the eight-year creation of the network.

There has been plenty of speculation about the names on the list. 
Possibilities include Paul Twomey, a former government adviser and, 
until recently, chief executive of the Internet Corporation of Assigned 
Names and Numbers, the former Optus chief executive and Packer family 
adviser Chris Anderson, and former Telstra executive Doug Campbell.

The other milestone pencilled in for tomorrow is the deadline for 
tenders for the role of lead adviser on the network's implementation 
study. The three main candidates are a group headed by McKinsey and 
KPMG, a link-up between Deloitte, AT Kearney and elements of the failed 
Acacia bid, and a bid headed by Boston Consulting.

Several members of the expert panel that recommended a fibre-to-the-home 
network to the Government are associated with bids.

It is understood that the tenderers will be in Canberra early next month 
to make presentations to officials from the department, and the winner 
will be announced later in the month.

Observers have expressed concern about the fact that the future board of 
the network company will play no part in the selection of a lead 
adviser, instead being presented with a fait accompli.
David Boxall                         | "Cheer up" they said.
                                     | "Things could be worse."
http://david.boxall.name             | So I cheered up and,
                                     | Sure enough, things got worse.
                                     |              --Murphy's musing

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