NBN Co refutes Pipe disclosure claims


The National Broadband Network Company has refuted claims by Pipe Network founder Bevan Slattery yesterday (pictured) that the disclosure of information to the public since the NBN project’s inception has been “woeful”.

“NBN Co has been highly transparent,” a NBN Co spokesperson said in an emailed reaction to Slattery’s allegations at the Communications Day Summit yesterday.

“We issued a consultation paper on the network design and high-level wholesale bitstream product in December. This was supported by well-attended industry briefing sessions. We received nearly 50 submissions and considered them carefully before issuing a response.”

Slattery had alleged the NBN project had been less than forthcoming with information about areas such as end user prices, product sets, internal rate of financial return and what it will cost to maintain the NBN.

But the NBN Co spokesperson pointed out the organisation had recently completed a “very detailed” series of workshops examining the NBN’s future network and operations, where industry representatives had had direct access to the key personnel who would be responsible for the construction and operation of the network and support systems.

“We plan to issue a paper on the points-of-interconnect, and a more detailed product description over coming weeks,” the spokesperson added. “We have also indicated we will submit a special access undertaking regarding the proposed price of our basic service offer with the ACCC in June, and this is also a transparent process.”

NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley and the company’s head of industry engagement Christy Boyce have been regulars on the telecommunications industry speaking circuit, adding to the organisation’s claims of transparency.

However, a number of pieces of information about the NBN project in general have remained private over the past year — such as the controversial implementation study on the future of the NBN put together by consulting firms KPMG and McKinsey. Communications Minister Stephen Conroy has promised to release the document before the Federal Budget in May.

NBN Co’s tendering process has also been less transparent than standard government tendering processes — some contracts, such as its IT services arrangement with Data#3, weren’t publicly tendered and the contract was not formally announced.

Slattery had also attacked the question of whether the NBN project would ever deliver a commercial return. In response, NBN Co pointed to comments made yesterday by its chief executive Mike Quigley about the company’s profitability.

Image credit: Delimiter