NBN Co’s Quigley to retire



news The National Broadband Network Company’s founding chief executive, Mike Quigley, announced today that he would retire from the company and from corporate life, after four years of tumultuous life setting up NBN Co and initiating the construction of the NBN.

An engineer by training, Quigley was appointed NBN Co chief executive in July 2009, after a lengthy career with telecommunications hardware vendor Alcatel-Lucent that saw the executive rise as high as president and chief operating officer. Quigley was also a key player in the integration of US firm Lucent Technologies into the French Alcatel business.

Quigley had initially retired after his role at Alcatel-Lucent, but came out of retirement to become NBN Co’s chief executive. The announcement was made in a media release issued by NBN Co this morning.

“My job was to lay the foundations for the NBN for the next 30 years,” Quigley said. “That job is largely complete. NBN Co is now a well-established wholesale telecommunications company with a nationwide workforce, delivery partners, infrastructure agreements, complex IT systems and more than 40 retail customers which are supplying fast, reliable and affordable broadband to a growing number of Australians.”

“The role of the next CEO will be to build on these foundations. It is now critical that we further strengthen our partnerships across the construction and telecommunications industries, as we escalate the build of the network and work closely with our retail customers to ensure a smooth migration of families and businesses to the NBN.”

“I joined NBN Co because I believed better telecommunications was central to Australia’s ongoing success. I still believe that today. The ramp-up in construction and the news last week that the company had passed more than 200,000 premises with fibre gives me further confidence that the NBN build can be delivered by 2021 in line with the projections in the company’s Corporate Plan.”

Quigley will continue to serve as CEO until the Board appoints a successor to oversee the next stage of the company’s development.

Responding to Quigley’s announcement, NBN Co chairman Siobhan McKenna said: “NBN Co has been fortunate to have Mike as Chief Executive over the past four years. His intellect, tenacity and knowledge of telecommunications products and network architecture have taken NBN Co from a policy vision to a successful operating entity. The Directors are proud of Mike’s achievements and welcome his decision to remain in post to ensure a smooth transition to his successor.”

It is likely that, should the Coalition win the upcoming Federal Election, that Quigley would not have been allowed to remain in the position of chief executive, with senior Coalition figures such as Shadow Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull having publicly stated that they believed NBN Co was being mismanaged, or managed by the wrong executive team.

Communications Minister Anthony Albanese and Finance Minister Penny Wong have also issued a statement thanking Quigley for his work at NBN Co.

“Mr Quigley was the first employee of NBN Co and has overseen its development from the very beginning,” the pair said. “Mr Quigley came out of retirement to head NBN Co. He was eager to join the project because he understood the importance of nation-building infrastructure that is essential for our nation’s economic future.”

“Mr Quigley also understands, intuitively, what all good infrastructure builders know: you do it once and you do it right. Mr Quigley was instrumental in negotiating the deal with Telstra which has paved the way for the NBN rollout. Over the past four years, Mr Quigley has also successfully managed the switching on of fibre, fixed wireless and satellite connections right across the country, as NBN Co has established the full scale rollout of the National Broadband Network.”

“Mr Quigley can be tremendously proud of what he has achieved. On behalf of the Government and the Australian people, we wish to thank Mike Quigley for helping build the infrastructure Australia needs for the 21st century.”


  1. Of course, the MSM are running this as “SHOCK! Quigley quits!”

    1 – He is “retiring”.
    2 – He came out of retirement to take the NBN Co role.
    3 – It shouldn’t be a shock as McKenna has been looking for a replacement for some time.

    Despite how the media will spin this, they should respect the statements in the media release. Political pressures aside, I think it was pretty reasonable to have expected MQ to have retired long before 2021.

    • MSM has destabilised Quigley to the point where some would observe that his “retirement” was forced by either Turnbull or McKenna. You only need to look at The Australian to see how much attention Turnbull gets, and how equally stupid and regressive their readers are. http://is.gd/60ynOl is a perfect example.

      That leads me to one conclusion. Turnbull really should be in the cricket team. The spin will be too much for England’s batsmen.

      • Just finished wading through a column of reader’s comments on Quigley’s departure in The Australian. WOW! I’m surprised many of them even managed to post their inane comments without direct assistance from Jones or Turnbull.
        I’ve often wondered where the scammers located so many investors dense enough to fall victim to those Nigerian offers. Not any more.

        • It’s easy to be on message when your letter writers are Liberal Party staff.

          Astroturfing is all the rage with News Ltd.

    • Where did that headline you quoted get published? Every one I read says retired/ steps down/ quits.

      • Read the articles Michael. They’re all describing it as a ‘huge shock’ or ‘big blow’ to NBNCo’s credibility. Even you should know headlines aren’t what sensible people read in isolation.

        • I was actually surprised that The Australian’s article actually had a slightly positive slant on it, though all the Turnbull quotes (like this gem “Mr Turnbull also raised questions about NBN Co chairwoman Siobhan McKenna.”), sure did weight it down…

          I think Malcolm would have come across with a lot more class if he’d just done a “Even though I felt he was not he the right person for the job, I wish him well in the future”. and left it at that..

      • I don’t believe I said it was a headline… *checks* …yeah, nope, didn’t say it was…

        I’m saying that’s the vibe they’re trying to push, as if it’s this great big new scandal.

        I hope I get this much attention the day I retire.

        • Good dodge of the main question.

          I’m sorry i thought it was a reasonable assumption that it came from a headline or a byline considering it is a quote?

          But either way is it quoted from somewhere or just a generalisation?

          • @Michael

            There are 2 uses for parenthesis:

            1- Quoting direct material from a story
            2- Indicating a sentence or idea as spoken, or possibly spoken, by another person

            You have misinterpreted which one Michael Wyres was using.

          • If it is paraphrased then you do not use quotation marks.

            If it is unusual use of language then quotation marks can when it is not a direct quote but I do not see that applying.

            But that is not how he used it, he said they “are running as “..”. That is a direct reference to what has been written not spoken.

          • @Michael

            Actually, if you want to get technical a SIGNLE parenthesis ‘ = paraphrase. And Double parenthesis ” = Quoting. But you still missed my point. I use parenthesis all the time saying things like:

            It was as if he was saying “screw you, I don’t want that regardless of if you do” when he said to me that he was unsure he could comply with my request.

            That is a legitimate way of using parenthesis. It is the IMPLICATION of what may have been said. Michael was not writing an article, where use of parenthesis implies either paraphrasing or a direct quote. That is journalistic use of parenthesis. He was intimating what the general aura of the articles were. It is a perfectly known and acceptable use of parenthesis.

          • Yes but I have never seen it used in that fashion for something that is not actual speech.

            Btw are we talking about quotation marks “” or parenthesis () ?

          • @Michael

            Sorry, brain fart there, quotation marks.

            I have. Dozens of times. I use it myself. It is colloquial. It would not be acceptable in a written article or journal entry. For example, this sentence: It is a way of saying “I get that this isn’t someone saying it, but the IDEA is they could be”. It’s a thought.

          • I get what your trying to say, but what throws me off is more the reference to written text instead of verbal speech.

            It is normal for speech to be differentiated by quotation marks even if not directly said but I have never seen it used that way in reference to a written text. It would make perfect sense without them and there is no need for the differentiation as it is as you have said the implication of the whole body.

            I would have understood if it was for emphasis (although I would see that more commonly as single inverted commas) instead of full quotation marks.

          • @Michael

            Really?? THAT’S what confused you??

            Michael was using a colloquial punctuation of quotation marks to intimate that the media, as an entity, were saying “SHOCK! Quigley Quits!”. No single article. No set of articles. He was referring to the MSM as an entity.

            I really thought you’d picked up on that….I don’t really see what’s that hard about it, no offence.

          • It must be the turn of phrase,

            Where there is no confusion in your explanations of they were “saying ……” that is not the expression he used and I just would not feel correct using quotation marks “” instead of single ” to represent it for emphasis or as a paraphrase.

          • @Michael

            Great. You’re not comfortable. Everyone else appears to understand and tolerate what Michael meant and how he said it…..

          • Michael, the defacto standard in publishing for paraphrasing is single quotes ‘ ‘

            There was a media watch episode this year that covered it and it might still be on iView.

          • Michael, you’re just arguing for the sake of argument. You don’t even have a real argument. What the hell are you even arguing about at this point? Just stop.

          • It’s one thing to have a position on the NBN, and on which political party should be in power in Australia. It’s quite another to needlessly, pointlessly defend comments by the MSM which are clear in their implications IF NOT THEIR EXACT PHRASING – Quigley has retired, but the MSM is painting it as him bowing to pressures and/or being forced out of the job – do you dispute this? This entire stupid argument has made it clear that you’re not a rational voter that makes a decision after considering the facts, you’re just another Liberal footsoldier that works backwards from a conclusion.

      • Well the SMH RSS feed would be pretty damming to your assertion that no MSM is reporting it as retirement, rather in the light that he has been pushed:

        ” NBN’s Quigley down, out – The SMH

        NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley has bowed to relentless political and internal pressures and quit as head of the company building the national broadband network.”

        Hmm, I didn’t see the word ‘retire’ in there, nor did I see the facts from the press release; just your standard MSM NBN bashing.

    • I hope they replace MQ with someone just as competent but also with someone not afraid to return fire at Turnbull and his band of Luddites in the media – I wanna hear NBN giving them a real broadside loaded with facts!

      Thanks for the great work MQ!

  2. I have a couple friends at NBN Co now and they say its a great place to work and Quigley has setup an excellent work culture – he’ll definitely be missed.

  3. Malcolm Turnbull
    There are as many revolving doors at ‪#‎NBN‬ Co as there are in the Labor caucus. How can project be a success when CEO gets fired?
    Like · · Share · 10 minutes ago

    So it’s already started, I guess.

    • Never knew retiring was firing these days, looks like we’ve all got to look forward to our future of being.. fired! :)

    • I’d say that’s libellous – there has been no suggestion Mr Quigley has been forced out. It would be extremely unusual for someone forced out to continue in the role for as long as necessary until his replacement is found.

      You’re not protected by Parliamentary privilege now, Turnbull. My word, it would be refreshing and go a long way to restoring confidence in the system for someone like Mr Quigley to successfully sue a prick like Turnbull for malicious, libellous and factually baseless statements like this.

    • Once again, just when I thought my opinion of Turnbull couldn’t get any lower. What a prick.

    • the tone i get from Malcolm immediately on this news is offensive. hes been pushing to have MQ replaced since practically day dot, and now that MQ jumped – left of own accord, not fired! – hes got his wish yet he still wants to bitch about it?

      its the noalition infection again, a relative of the moving goalposts strain “no, thats what i wanted before, but i want something else now”. not only that but using its occurrence as an attack line…. argh! i am so sick of this shit from them. it is exactly this sort of shit why i have a low opinion of Parliament… its part of the negative attitude the oppn. has been pushing for a while now, and its starting to really grate on me.

  4. From one perspective, it is politically convenient for Mr Quigley to announce this now – with all the changes on Labor’s front bench, the rug has been pulled out of the LNP’s strongest argument – to ‘change’ the people in Government. They’ve already been changed. Now that argument from the LNP regarding NBN Co management is essentially defused, too. I don’t know how far back Mr Quigley’s retirement plans go – if this has been on the cards for a whole, then it’s just really convenient. If the timing was flexible and the timing has been chosen deliberately, then it’s smart politics.

    Thank you Mr Quigley – you’re a visionary and a gentleman and Australia owes you a debt of gratitude that it is decades from truly appreciating.

  5. Mr Quigley,
    if you are reading this, I’d just like to say thank you.
    I think you have done a wonderful job, and dispite the constant harassment, always been gracious in your dealings with others. You how setup NBNCo, with what I believe, from 30 odd years experience in IT, to be the best long term solution for Australia’s telecommunications. If politics ruins this over the next few years, I am sure it will be put right in the end. Your vision is the future, it may be able to be delayed, but never stopped.

    • Lionel
      “If politics ruins this over the next few years, I am sure it will be put right in the end. Your vision is the future, it may be able to be delayed, but never stopped.”

      I wish I could agree with you

  6. Enjoy your well earned retirement Mr Quigley!!

    It’s going to be very interesting to see who takes over. Hopefully they are the same calibre as Mike.

    • Absolutely. For all the brickbats he’s worn in his tenure I hope re retirement is placid …thank you for your service.

      • Agreed. Thanks to Quigley we are well underway with the nations’s biggest, (and arguably most important) infrastructure upgrade of all time. He’s had to fend of constant critisicm of NBNCo at every level, and he’s always done so with dignity. I think he did an awesome job, and I hope his successor shares the same level of competence.

    • He’s 60 – but lets not forget he came out of retirement to do this AND donated his first year salary – ($2 million) – to charity.

      He wasn’t in it just to be in it, he was in it to achieve something for Australia. He’s been in the industry for the best part of 40 years, so retirement is well deserved.

  7. I truly wish Quigley the best. He knew when he needed to go, having setup NBNCo. as he wanted, regardless of political Bullshit. If the NBN is lucky enough to continue as is, what a brilliant legacy for him to have left his country. A network that will last decades and propel us to the forefront of innovation and technology in connectivity.

    Cheers Mike. Great job.

  8. I am surprised he stuck it out as long as he did. He was on a hiding to nil the whole time he was there. Due to the political nature of the NBN, he was always damned if he did and damned if he didnt. Then of course there was the bases sh*t slinging from Turnbull about the “bribery claims”.
    Through all that, Quigley has maintained his gentlemanly manner and respectablity and he needs to be commended for that. He didnt need this job. He came out of retirement to do it, though I bet he didnt realise just how tough it would get due to the politics involved. If he had his time again, he may not be as keen ;)

  9. Thankyou for your efforts Mike. You will go down in history as one of my most respected CEO’s. The way you have responded graciously yet firmly to the amount of misrepresentation and bias thrown your way over the last 4 years has blown me away.

    Thank you for being willing to come out of retirement to get the ball rolling on Australia’s largest infrastructure project. Job well done!

  10. But, didn’t he just sign a 3 year contract extension!? Somethings not right! … (and the fact that the rest of the Board have no idea about the technology and network building isn’t it)
    Maybe Albo give him a quiet elbow!

    • @Wardo

      Someone over at Whirlpool just made a good point. He may be sick again. That’s rank speculation, but possible.

      Otherwise, he may simply have been convinced leaving now, while NBNCo. is doing (relatively) ok, would be better for the company, politics and him, than being unceremoniously dumped after a possible LNP win.

      • The other reason could be not that he is sick, but that the experience of cheating death has given him a healthy perspective on enjoying the days you do have.

        And that is that you do a job, do it well, and then move on when it starts to drain life from you – and the political sledging Mike Quigley has had to deal with was way more than he ever signed up for.

        Well done, Mike. Go and enjoy life. Have a real retirement, knowing that you have made an incredible difference to your country’s future.

  11. Hopefully they can find someone a) good enough to do the role and b) willing enough to cop the abuse of the feral Liberal party

  12. Thanks for your work Mr Quigley. You have left a resounding legacy for Australia, provided someone doesn’t screw up your work. **looking at you turnbull**

  13. can’t we retire those things in society that apart from our slow internet are holding us back?

    eg : jones… bolt…

  14. Thanks Mike!

    We trust that your vision, hard work on this important infrastructure is seen through to completion by people with the same desire for the advancement of communications in Australia as you have shown.

  15. Australia has it backwards. MQ is the sort of person that we should have running the country. Intelligent, competent, carefully spoken, not prone to bluster, gets on with work, feels strongly about improving things for the benefit of the community etc.

    I hope this doesn’t sound too gushy but just imagine if the major parties had characters predominantly like him instead of the likes of Swan, Gillard, Hockey, Abbott, Pyne, Bishop etc.

    Damn …..

    • I’d vote for him. It’s rare to see someone of integrity. Unlike those that ask for it but doesn’t practice it themselves. That is a real hypocrite. You listening Mr Turnbull?

  16. The Australian has never posted any of my comments on anything, don’t even know anybody whose ever been posted there. It’s obviously biased with over 70% of voters supporting the NBN, the Australian having 90%+ people bagging the project and bagging it vehemently. It looks like Pyne’s blog shop is at it again.

  17. Mr Quigley also understands, intuitively, what all good infrastructure builders know: you do it once and you do it right.

    If they were really taking that approach (and ignoring the cost) then the “home run” topology of running dark fiber to the exchange would have been a much better “do it once, do it right” design.

    * Better speed from dedicated channel and dedicated endpoints.

    * Easier to provide genuine demarcation for a more competitive industry

    * Neutral to a variety of network protocols (e.g. RF overlay) depending on the provider

    * Simpler pricing structure (just pay per line per month, same as existing ULL pricing, no need for bandwidth charges or volume charged).

    * Better division of labour, NBN can focus on rollout (which they really, really need to focus on) and ISPs can focus on network equipment (which they are already skilled at achieving).

    In many ways, fiber GPON is the worst of all worlds, almost as expensive as “home run” because of the labour costs involved, but much more restrictive in terms of the network design and market implications. The only possible reason to choose this design is to make it easier to insert traffic filters and sniffers. Plus, GPON ends up requiring cabinets and those will be future weak points for water to creep into the joints (just like the copper network) and screw with the signal. GPON is also subject to jabber faults requiring half a street to be shut down in order to track them (although jabber is rare in modern NTUs, it’s one more thing that can go wrong, ask Major Murphy).

    • The only possible reason to choose this design is to make it easier to insert traffic filters and sniffers

      Umm… wait? Do you have any evidence for this statement at all?

      • Well anyone with basic network knowledge would tell you that sniffing off a switch that you already own and control is much easier than trying to bleed a little bit of infra red off a fiber where the endpoints are controlled by someone else. Both are possible, but the NBN design makes it massively easier.

        • @Tel

          I’m sorry, but that’s an absolute load of bollocks. GPON is no more or less susceptible to filtering than any fibre tech. PTP is switched at the POI. GPON is switched at the FAN as well. It makes no difference, they’re both aggregated at some point and just as likely.

          GPON is ALSO more than capable of being upgraded well past 40Gbps per splitter. There is no need for PTP for residential premises beyond 1Gbps right at the moment and in a few years when there is, it will be upgraded at either end as such. Perhaps in a few decades PTP will be needed, although XGPON still has a LONG way to go, in which case the current NBN will have been well and truly paid off and we can put more fibre in and swap all the splitters for direct connections.

          Oh and the cabinets are no more or less likely to provide water problems than PTP. PTP still has connections along Its length and they’re in pits, even MORE likely to be flooded.

          • If you read my original comment, I was suggesting that the NBN place the demarcation at a dark fiber handoff, so the endpoints will be competitively controlled by a diverse range of private operators. That’s what makes the key difference.

            Suppose Telstra decide they want to implement a filter that blocks all the traffic on TPG’s ULL copper. How would Telstra implement this?

          • @Tel

            NBNCo. have placed the end points at 121 dark fibre demarcation points, usually old Telstra exchanges, called POIs….most major operators ALREADY have their own backhaul there.

            Suppose Telstra decide they want to implement a filter that blocks all the traffic on TPG’s ULL copper. How would Telstra implement this?

            Apart from being EXTREMELY illegal, there is no way to filter ALL TPG ULL from one location. You would have to put in switches in each exchange that contains TPG ULL.

          • … there is no way to filter ALL TPG ULL from one location. You would have to put in switches in each exchange that contains TPG ULL.

            Keep thinking about it, you aren’t even close to the ball yet. How exactly could you go about filtering on ULL?

        • Your statement was the only possible reason for choosing GPON, despite seven_tech attempting to deal with the realities of doing that kind of filtering, which I will leave him too, I will point out that your statement is easily counter exampled, thus false. So easily in fact I won’t even bother, since I’m sure you’re more than capable of coming up with one on your own.

          Chose your language more precisely next time.

      • I might also point out that trying to do content filtering when all you have control over is the fiber itself and not the endpoints is basically impossible.

        • So let me get this straight: they can do it, therefore they must be doing it?

          I can shoot you in the face, but as evidenced by your face not being riddled with bullet holes, I have not.

      • Hopefully not infringing too much on copyright

        …with help in no small part from Quigley, who took on an impossible task and leaves with the project ready to be rolled out.

        Even with myriad snafus, this was no small feat on Quigley’s part. He is to be commended for sticking with the mission impossible for as long as he did, allowing him to walk rightly claiming that he had put the building blocks in place.

        He might have been held up as personifying a disaster, but all things considered he has done an extraordinary job.

        Four years ago, Quigley was the first employee of the NBN and he leaves now with 2800 staff — from a start-up to a major company and a political football throughout.

        Quigley’s greatest strength was that he understood the magnitude of the engineering and technology task as well as how to manage it .

        His greatest weakness was underestimating the difficulty in dealing with the Australian construction industry.

        If Quigley figures the project has always been a tough one, it doesn’t look like getting any easier. But, given the base he has left, it is not anywhere near as tough as the picture Malcolm Turnbull is painting for obvious political gain

        • Interesting, thanks. That’s the second decent article on it that I’ve seen from The Australian, I wonder why the sudden turn-a-round?

          I may start reading it again if they keep it up…

          • Possibly Murdoch has ordered them to hedge their bets with the Rudd turnaround.

            And he may need friends in other countries if the English actually follow through on his support of corruption of the Police there. A newspaper proprietor can’t go around saying bribing police is just business as usual. Well, not on record anyway ;-)

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