Quigley thanks Whirlpool for NBN contribution



news Outgoing NBN Co chief executive Mike Quigley has posted a comment on broadband forum Whirlpool thanking the site’s community for its support of him personally and for informing commentary on the subject of broadband in Australia, in a move which further demonstrates the influence the site wields in the nation’s telco sector.

The executive revealed last week that he would retire after four years leading NBN Co as its founding chief executive. While elements of the mainstream media and the Opposition have been harshly critical of Quigley’s tenure leading NBN Co, telco sector executives have over the past week lined up to thank and praise the executive’s integrity and energy [D2] in rolling out the NBN.

In a post on Whirlpool this morning, Quigley said he wanted to express his “thanks to the Whirlpool community members for the many kind words of support over the last few days”.

“I would also like to express my sincere thanks for the ongoing contribution you have all made in informing the commentary around the subject of broadband in Australia,” the executive added. “I know from personal experience that this can sometimes be an uphill task. I have watched the discussions on Whirlpool for quite some time and have asked members of the NBN Co team to follow up on some of your comments and observations. I could not quite keep up with our former Minister, Stephen Conroy, who frequently called me to refer to a Whirlpool post.”

Conroy has publicly expressed several times over the past several years that he was “tragically” a frequent visitor to Whirlpool, especially during the height of the debate over the NBN project which he had oversight and ministerial responsibility for. The Senator mentioned a number of specific Whirlpool threads on several occasions in Federal Parliament.

In addition, in August 2012 Conroy delivered a fiery tirade against the media for constantly repeating misconceptions about Labor’s National Broadband Network project, singling out the Financial Review newspaper for particular ridicule and recommending that those interested in accuracy read broadband forum Whirlpool.

“For those that are interested in a comprehensive discussion of these issues, I can recommend to you the Whirlpool website, particularly the thread entitled ‘fighting the FUD’,” Conroy said at the time. “It is a very informative thread, and I would encourage you to take a look at it. because it does address quite a few of the issues which we debate regularly.”

Like many other ISPs, NBN Co has its own online representatives active on Whirlpool. The company’s first posts on the site were in April 2011.

Quigley told Whirlpool users today that they would understand that he could not enter the online debate, “as I would likely have had little time left to try to design and build the network”. “But I do want you all to know that I believe it is very important that you continue to debate the topic as I am convinced that a first-class broadband fixed line network is critical to Australia’s future,” the NBN Co chief executive wrote.

“It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to have lead the NBN project for the first 4 years but I would like to stress that this has been a team effort by many people both within and outside NBN Co. The job has also had its challenges and I do hope that you will continue to support the new CEO as she/he continues the efforts.”

“I will be putting all my energy into moving the NBN forward while I am still with the company so I will continue to rely on my online team to respond to your many queries. However, I can assure you that I will still be taking a very active interest in your comments, criticisms and suggestions. All the best.”

Quigley’s comments received generally polite responses from the Whirlpool community. “Absolute pleasure to have you here … I hope you get to retire in peace and many thanks to you and your team for getting the nbn under way,” one commenter wrote. “Good to have you onboard Mike I had a real big gut feeling that you have been reading Whirlpool,” added another. And a third wrote:

“We sincerely thank you for the work you have done. Few really understand the significance of what you have achieved in such a short amount of time. Australia will be quietly indebted to you for a long time. Your strength of character in these difficult times is a testament to you having being the right person for the job – few would have survived, let alone accomplish what you did. We hope that you can continue contributing to the NBN debate! Enjoy a well earnt rest!”

I’ve said many times that online communities such as Whirlpool and Delimiter play a much greater role in influencing the national debate, and even actual policy and project outcomes, than many online readers and commenters realise. It’s very common (actually, it happened this afternoon in a coffee I had with a prominent MP) that politicians, high-ranking executives and other stakeholders in Australia’s technology sector go out of their way to mention a particular comment or comment thread to me that they’ve seen on Delimiter, and I’m sure the same is true of Whirlpool.

It’s not just the articles which make these kinds of sites so important — it’s also the communities. And I can assure you that those in power do read many of your comments on issues they are considering, and do take them into account. The comments which Conroy and Quigley have made about Whirlpool today and going back over the years are strong evidence of that. These forums are places where individual Australians can have their say — and be heard.

Image credit: NBN Co


  1. You are so right that key sites like Delimiter and Whirlpool play a tremendously important part in the national debate Renai. I think people assume that CEOs and politicians would be far too busy and important to read what the mere proletariat are saying in their online discussions. But -no-one- who people are talking about ignores what people are saying about them, their job and their company. Some execs and politicians will choose not to acknowledge it publicly, but -everyone- reads what people are saying online. When you have a concentrated community of key influencers in a field, it’s even more likely that top execs and politicans will take note of the prevailing view when making decisions.

  2. “Like many other ISPs, NBN Co has its own online representatives active on Whirlpool”
    NBN Co isn’t an ISP ;-)

    • “NBN Co isn’t an ISP”

      If NBNco is not supplying internet services, what is it building a network for?

      I guess it would be defined as a Tier 2 Transit ISP

      NBNco is not an RSP

    • *stares*

      Are you really that pedantic? NBN Co supplies wholesale Internet services. It is an ISP.

      The only other term that could apply to it is “telco”. In NBN Co’s case, it is likely both a telco and an ISP.

      Is that hard to understand?

      • ISP = Internet Service Provider. NBN provides a internet services so it is a ISP from my point of view. People need to be aware that ISPs aren’t just the consumer based product that we know from our home internet access such as optus, internode etc. I guess ISP has become a generic term for domestic internet connections.

      • I’m that pedantic: An Internet Service Provider offers services based around the Internet Protocol. The NBN is a layer 2 network – it offers no IP (layer 3) services. That is the domain of the RSPs.

        I think Telco is a reasonable description for the NBN, but even then it offers no voice services beyond allowing an RSP access to a voice port on the ONT. Really the NBN is unique. Perhaps “Wholesale Data Network Provider”?

        • “An Internet Service Provider offers services based around the Internet Protocol.”

          … apologies, but my belief is that you just made that definition up :)

          How about this for a definition:

          “An Internet Service Provider offers services based around the Internet.”

          Sound more accurate?


          • If I buy a point-to-point data service (let’s say, Ethernet based) from, say, Telstra or Optus – I’m not buying an Internet service. I might run IP over it, I might even use it to connect me to the Internet. Or I might not – IP isn’t the only layer 3 protocol around.

            If I connect up a few devices using Wifi – I’m not an ISP. If I build my own Metro Ethernet service connecting 100, 1000 points – same thing. If I build “an NBN” connecting 10000000 points – same thing.

            The RSPs are the ISPs.

            Perhaps one day the NBN will have RSPs who provide a service that isn’t IP based? EG, FCoE between various storage networks inter-city or even interstate.

          • I like the combo of telecom and isp – TISP, its catchy, succinct and also an acronym for “THIS IS SERIOUS, PEOPLE”

        • how about this: The NBN is a Wholesale Ethernet Access Provider Or Network? – W.E.A.P.O.N!

          • Dudes, with respect. The NBN is an Internet Provider ie. the NBN supplies wholesale access to the Internet for companies to resell to Consumers via ISPs like IINet etc.

            Simple really.

  3. Speaking of public forums, and the NBN…


    I thought it was a pretty good article detailing the major similarities and differences, in a format and with language that the ordinary person (read: voter) can understand.

    However, I can tell that people are going to attack the “50Mbps” figure, as it’s, as Turnbull promises, actually “a minimum 50Mbps”. I guess that if you are lucky enough to have your nature strip graced with the FTTN cabinet, you might achieve near 100Mbps?

    • I note, however, that the comparison takes the two policies’s promises at face-value, and doesn’t delve into their deliverability – such as whether a Coalition government can obtain the Telstra network for free, such as whether Fibre on Demand is viable, such as whether guaranteed minimum speeds of 25Mbps or 50Mbps are achievable over the copper, and such as whether the timeframes of either policy are accurate. However, in that way, I think it is a fair treatment, as while it takes one party’s claims of its policy outcomes as true, it also completely ignores claims made by one party of the other party’s policy, and thus provides a good analysis of the two policies for worlds where their distinct assumptions hold.

  4. lol whirlpool has no influence. and whirlpool people are the only ones that would actually listen to quigley.

    game over. move on.

    • I find it hard to believe it has no influence. If you wanted to look at what people thought of the various policies or what people were looking for in broadband, it is one of the few resources available within Australia. Random polling on the street isn’t going to get you anything useful.
      Better a general population uninformed opinion or an opinion from those who at least know what the hell the NBN is. I’d go for the later. Turnbull goes for those that agree with his decissions.

      • You would like to think that. But end of the day, NBN, policy and the like are shaped on real statistics and polling that is done in the realm of the 99% of the people that do not use whirlpool and for the most part think its a company that makes washing machines.

        Whirlpool is great for the minority, which deposed people often turn toward when the majority reject them. (Quigley).

        Ill give him credit he got the ball rolling. But the NBN is sick, it’s spent a lot of money and achieved little, all those on the NBN board know this and that is why they are wasting even more money trying to hire a company to put them in a good light.

        Malcolm Turnball has a solid plan for fiber to the node and fiber to the premise is just one extra step that can happen on demand via commercial arrangement. Which he has committed to fostering and not funding with money from the countries public purse. Companies have a role in this as well, as they all stand to make a LOT of money from this network over the next 50+ years.

        Before you get all high and mighty and spruik how the NBN will be so great and will do all these amazing things for me that I am just not aware of. Matey, I am already connected to the NBN via fiber, I am also an IT professional (with a degree) and can say, ADSL2 was more than sufficient. Whilst the higher upstream is great, it was only important to me years ago when I was pirating movies on torrent sites trying to get my ratio up, media content is cheap now and times have changed. Perhaps you way of thinking needs to as well.

    • Just like all the John Smiths in this world has no influence on my decision on what to have for dinner.

    • Hi John, I think it does.

      There are many of us here who are techos in various fields and to various degrees, but are not necessarily experts in the specifics of FTTN v FTTP or the likely viability of VDSL, or any of the other claims that are made or debated in the media.

      So we come to places like whirlpool and delimtter to find out from other techos, and this is how we form our own opinions.

      The non-techs in the community: colleagues, mums and dads, friends of family and so on, have over the years come to us for help with technology and have come to respect our opinions on technology, probably moreso than a politician’s.

      It’s subtler and maybe not as powerful a voice as LimitedNews, however I think it still matters.

  5. I think the NBN’s success (or failure) will end up depending on Wwhirlpool, in the same way iiNet’s successful was very closely related to what happen on Whirlpool.

    See at the start of the century when iiNet was launching itself on the Eastern seaboard it was discovered very early on by the “techies”, especially those in Sydney, that there was a mountain of very under-utilised transit available.

    iiNet prayed on this in turn and without zero television or pint advertising grew its customer base purely on word of mouth alone and through discount arrangement for those who referred customers to iiNet.

    The techies basically built iiNet’s customer base – all from that call we hear at family and friend BBQs, the “what ISP should i go with”. it was whirlpool that kicked iiNet’s success off with the spreading of the whole narrative of a ISP who had a good stable service, good DSLAMs, lots of bandwidth and a customer service team based in Australia that had a bit of an idea of what they were doing. Also Malone used to put his Credit Card on the bar for iiNet fans (techies) whenever he was in town probably helped things along as well.

    What the hell does this have to do with Whirlpool and NBN? Well in the same way Whirlpool basically made iiNet, it will as factor in significantly when it comes to making or breaking the NBN.

    Whenever we’re at parties/BBQ’s surely as I am we, because of our occupation and interest, are invariably drawn into a discussion about the pro’s and con’s of the NBN and for the most part the tech community has chosen FTTH as the preferred model.

    This word of mouth will factor greatly when people have to decide at the election. Maybe today they’re not thinking about it but when September comes, people will have to pick and the voice they’ll trust isn’t Abbot, Turnbull or Rudd but rather that came from their techie friend or family member.

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