• The Frustrated State: How terrible tech policy is deterring digital Australia

    Written by Delimiter's Renai LeMay, The Frustrated State will be the first in-depth book examining of how Australia’s political sector is systematically mismanaging technological change. Click here to help fund it on Kickstarter.

  • No Brother: Science fiction, martial arts & Australia's darkest city

    Set in Australia's darkest city, No Brother is a vision of a future where martial arts discipline intersects with power, youth and radical technological change. It is the first novel by Delimiter's Renai LeMay. Click here to help fund it on Kickstarter.

  • News - Written by on Wednesday, October 2, 2013 12:33 - 0 Comments

    Bevan and Baxter: Two more for the NBN board

    mini opinion/analysis by Renai LeMay
    2 October 2013
    Image: goosmurf, Creative Commons

    Last week we proposed Internode founder Simon Hackett as a prime candidate to sit on NBN Co’s newly refreshed board under Tony Abbott’s new Coalition Government. Today we add two new prospective names to the list: PIPE Networks’ influential founders Bevan Slattery and Steve Baxter.

    If you were following Australia’s Internet service provider industry back in the mid-2000’s, you would have seen a constant string of high-profile names of ISP executives appearing in the technology media. Giants like Internode’s Simon Hackett, iiNet’s Michael Malone, Netspace’s Stuart Marburg, Macquarie Telecom’s David Tudehope, AAPT’s Paul Broad and others were all quoted regularly in the media, and it’s not hard to see why: These executives were all engaged in revolutionising the state of broadband in Australia and wresting control of the telecommunications industry away from Telstra.

    However, you would have also seen several other names frequently mentioned; names associated with a company that didn’t have a retail presence in the same way as the ISPs just named, but was nonetheless fundamental to their success.

    ISPs like Internode and iiNet were never going to make much money from purely reselling Telstra services, with the extremely slim profit margins possible on Telstra’s network. With this in mind, in order to successfully take broadband market share away from former telco monopolist Telstra, the nation’s clutch of mid-tier ISPs needed to build their own network infrastructure.

    This involved putting several key planks of infrastructure in place. Firstly, the ISPs needed to deploy their own ADSL gear in telephone exchanges. This allowed them to immediately offer higher speeds than the incumbent would, as well as achieve better profit margins. However, they also needed to build links between those exchanges and their backhaul networks, so that they could pump their new ADSL links full of data from the greater Internet.

    For this second task, many of the ISPs turned to several of the best independent fibre network builders in Australia’s history: PIPE Networks founders Bevan Slattery and Steve Baxter.

    PIPE started as an Internet peering exchange; offering ISPs the chance to link their networks together in key datacentres and save money on Internet traffic costs. However, before long the pair had actually started deploying fibre-optic cables in Australia’s streets, as they realised there was a huge pent-up demand for extremely high-speed broadband services from other telcos, corporates and government departments.

    By 2009, when the company was bought by retail ISP TPG, PIPE Networks had become one of the most valuable little telcos in Australia, making its founders multi-multi-millionaires through listing on the Australian Securities Exchange and operating a network of many hundreds of kilometres of fibre cable.

    Today it’s doing even better; it has over 1,400km of cable in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, as well as a 6900km submarine cable from Sydney to Guam carrying huge amounts of international data traffic.

    The company’s founders, Baxter and Slattery, have also diversified further into the nation’s technology sector. Baxter, one of the ISP industry’s long-term veterans, has founded several companies, worked at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, and is currently acting as an angel investor, having backed many Australian technology startups and having formed the River City Labs tech startup incubator in Brisbane.

    Slattery’s resume is similarly impressive. Following his time at PIPE, Slattery went on to found and list one of Australia’s largest datacentre companies, NEXTDC. Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull launched NEXTDC’s latest datacentre in Sydney this week. Slattery also has involvement in SubPartners, a company aiming to build new undersea submarine cables from Australia to other regions, again, enhancing Australia’s broadband capacities.

    Then too, Slattery has been a regular commentator on NBN issues over the project’s life. Along with Internode’s Hackett, the PIPE founder has consistently criticised the project on specific aspects that he felt needed substantial improvement.

    Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has consistently stated, both in Opposition and in Government, that he is seeking candidates with actual experience deploying fibre telecommunications networks to serve on NBN Co’s refreshed board.

    If the Member for Wentworth is being honest about that objective, it would be hard to look further than the extremely dynamic, experienced and influential founders of PIPE Networks. Bevan Slattery and Steve Baxter both have deep experience in the commercial and technical aspects of building and operating fibre networks in Australia — in an industry where virtually nobody else does. Both also have deep links to the wider digital economy and IT industry.

    And what’s more, they have the deep and abiding respect of virtually every party in Australia’s telecommunications industry.

    Last week I wrote that if If Malcolm Turnbull were serious about making sure all Australians quickly get access to affordable, high-speed broadband, there was one man he must consider appointing to the board of NBN Co: The entrepreneur who was instrumental in bringing Australians broadband in the first place: Simon Hackett.

    Well, let’s add two more names to the list. Bevan Slattery and Steve Baxter are more than qualified to help bring the NBN project back on track. It would be criminal to ignore the deep well of knowledge and experience that exists in their heads.

    submit to reddit

    Leave a Comment


    Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:

  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp facepalm2

      If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well.

    • Qld’s Grant joins analyst firm IBRS peter-grant

      This week it emerged that Peter Grant, the two-time former Queensland Whole of Government CIO (pictured), has joined well-regarded analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS). We’ve long had a high regard for IBRS, and so it’s fantastic to see such an experienced executive join its ranks.

    • Westpac dumps desk phones for Samsung Android mobiles samsung-galaxy-ace-3

      The era of troublesome desk phones tied to physical locations is gradually coming to an end in many workplaces, with mobile phones becoming increasingly popular as organisations’ main method of voice telecommunications. But some groups are more advanced than others when it comes to adoption of the trend. One of those is Westpac.

    • Ministers’ cloud approval lasted just a year reverse

      Remember how twelve months ago, the Federal Government released a new cloud computing security and privacy directive which required departments and agencies to explicitly acquire the approval of the Attorney-General and the relevant portfolio minister before government data containing private information could be stored in offshore facilities? Remember how the policy was strongly criticised by Microsoft, Government CIOs and Delimiter? Well, it looks like the policy is about to be reversed.

    • WA Govt can’t fund school IT upgrades oops key

      In news from The Department of Disturbing Facts, iTNews revealed late last week that Western Australia’s Department of Education has run out of money halfway through the deployment of new fundamental IT infrastructure to the state’s schools.

    • Turnbull outlines Govt ICT vision turnbull-5

      Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published an extensive article arguing that the Federal Government needed to do a better job of connecting with Australians via digital channels and that public sector IT projects needn’t cost the huge amounts that some have in the past.

    • NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud zealand

      New Zealand’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service.

    • CommBank reveals Harte’s replacement whiteing

      The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has promoted an internal executive who joined the bank in September after a lengthy career at petroleum giant VP and IT services group Accenture to replace its outgoing chief information officer Michael Harte, who announced in early May that he would leave the bank.

    • Jeff Smith quits Suncorp for IBM jeffsmith4

      Second-tier Australian bank and financial services group Suncorp today announced that its long-serving top technology executive Jeff Smith would leave to take up a senior role with IBM in the United States, in an announcement which marks the end of an era for the nation’s banking IT sector.

    • Small business missing the mobile, social, cloud revolution iphone-stock

      Most companies that live and breathe the online revolution are not tech startups, but smart smaller firms that use online tools to run their core business better: to cut costs, reach customers and suppliers, innovate and get more control. Many others, however, are falling behind, according to a new Grattan Institute discussion paper.

  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 5, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

    Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp

    More In Enterprise IT

    Blog, Telecommunications - Jul 5, 2014 12:12 - 0 Comments

    What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?

    More In Telecommunications

    Analysis, Industry, Internet - Jun 23, 2014 10:33 - 0 Comments

    ‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

    More In Industry

    Blog, Digital Rights - Jun 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

    Will Netflix launch in Australia, or not?

    More In Digital Rights