NBN Co awash with review consultants



news The National Broadband Network Company revealed late last week that it would appoint three consulting firms to assist with its Strategic Review process, despite the fact that Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull had stipulated it was his intention that the review be conducted by NBN Co itself.

The Strategic Review is being led by NBN Co’s Board and executive management. Its primary objective is to evaluate both the: Current NBN operational and financial performance; as well as the timing, financials and product offers under alternative models of delivering very fast broadband to homes and businesses across Australia.

Turnbull said in a press conference last month he had made it clear to NBN Co’s staff that he was “not interested in being given information that people may think will conform to my particular political agenda, whatever they may imagine that to be”.

“The goal of the strategic review, as you know, is to ascertain what it will really cost in dollars, what it will really take in years and months, to complete the project on the current specifications. And then, to assess, what options there are to reduce that cost and time, by using different techniques, different technologies,” the Minister added.

“As you know, as everyone knows, we’ve canvassed an example of that in our policy document, but let me say again, as I said to NBN staff today, I am, and the Government is, thoroughly open-minded, we are not dogmatic about technology; technology is not an ideological issue. We are completely agnostic about it. What we want to do is get the best result for taxpayers as soon as possible.”

“It’s intended that the review will be conducted by the company. So it will be owned, if you like, by the board of the NBN Co and owned by the company. But it obviously will have the input of experts and advisers. But it’s not my intention to have a firm of consultants produce a review that is not owned by the people that then have to live with it an execute it.”

However, it appears that, contrary to Turnbull’s statement, NBN Co has brought in significant external resources to conduct the Strategic Review. On Friday, the company issued a statement noting that it had contracted three consulting firms to carry out work on the project

“Deloitte will provide governance and program management office services to ensure the Strategic Review fits within the parameters and tight deadline for submission set by the Government; KordaMentha will contribute to the analysis of the current NBN operational and financial performance; [and] Boston Consulting Group will participate in the review of the timing, financials and product offers under alternative models for delivering very fast broadband,” the company stated. The three consultancies were chosen as part of a select tender process announced on 16 October.

NBN Co noted that the review was being led by the company’s board and executive management, “under the sponsorship of JB Rousselot, the company’s Head of Strategy and Transformation”.

“The company will also mobilise a cross-divisional team of NBN Co employees who will work closely with the external consultants,” the company added. The document will form a key input into the company’s 2014-17 Corporate Plan, which is due to be delivered to the Government in the first half of next year.”

However, Rousselot himself is a newcomer to NBN Co. The executive, who has close personal links to Turnbull, was only appointed to the company this month. Rousselot, a former Telstra executive, is not known to have substantial experience deploying telecommunications network infrastructure (link to paywalled content).

NBN Co’s board is currently led by the company’s executive chairman Ziggy Switkowski, who was appointed early this month. Like Rousselot, Switkowski is a veteran of Telstra, but does not have substantial experience with the deployment of network infrastructure.


  1. I don’t get how you conduct an effective review when your first action was to get rid of most of the corperate knowledge of the institution. It also makes the stuff who are left less cooperative with the review process as you have significant hurt moral as people fear for their jobs.

    • This, combined with getting in “mates” without the requisite experience would show that Turnbull’s claims aren’t being backed up by his actions.

  2. What’s the daily roll out requirement now for “cheaper” and “faster” deployment of something that is better than what we have now, but nowhere near, nor directly upgradeable to, the original FTTN goal (which hasn’t apparently changed as endgame).

    • Do you mean FTTP goal?

      To answer your question, with 12.202 million premises to be connected by the end of 2016, and 228,600 already passed by fibre thus far, that leaves roughly 12 million premises yet to be connected. If 30% are already covered by HFC (to be opened up for wholesale access), that leaves 8.4 million to be covered by FTTP and FTTN. There are 1,160 days from now until the end of 2016. That means that, starting from today, the average connection rate must be roughly 7,240 per day for Malcolm to make good on his pre-election promise of minimum 25Mbps for everyone by 2016.

  3. Turnbull wants a review. He gets a review. Even if it means binning the prefered “mate, just tell me I can deploy copper, okay?” response in favour of an actual external review.

    Can’t blame NBNco. Most of the experience was sacked, by a Minister who now ironically needs that experience to perform said review. What else can they do?

    Probably should have thought about that first, Malcom, before calling vendetta, huh. Revenge isn’t really a 20/20 vision thing.

      • Your definition of “open transparent” is to NOT appoint analysts who are open to the idea that universal FTTP is not the only way to go.

        • And no need to ask about yours…what ever the Coalition says is fine I”m sure…

          Well after all you opposed FttN in 2007 didn’t you?

        • I’m not sure how I suggested “FTTP” or “FTTN” in that comment that you’ve tried to twist in your own direction.

          Fact is, irrespective of the technology, Malcolm promised to be open and transparent.

          It’s quite clear that’s not happening, and he’s giving jobs to his mates.

          Copper or fibre, notwithstanding.

          • In a small country like Australia, the Kevin Bacon principle is amplified. Also, any telco executive with serious industry exp is bound to be ex-Telstra. (Even Dalby is ex-Telstra.) The only way Malcolm would fail the open transparency test is if any of the future reports released are “only 5 pages exec summary heavily redacted” Conroy-style. But FTTH zealots are intent on deliberate smear campaigns against any NBN review that is not pre-committed to Labor-style FTTH.

          • Smear…haha yeah, haha yeah.

            Coming from the kings of smear who personally smeared Quigley and in turn lost arguably the #1 non-Telstra (iirc), truly transparent and experienced exec available, is either laughable or pitiful…

          • Given a choice between being a FTTP zealot or a Coalition zealot. I know which one I would rather be. At least, there can be some rationality about the former.

          • @Michael Wyres

            ‘Fact is, irrespective of the technology, Malcolm promised to be open and transparent.’

            Fact is the announcement of who is doing the reports and what the report briefs are has just been made, the reports have not even been started yet but never mind you are already stating the outcome won’t be open and transparent, about which of course you have no idea.

            ‘It’s quite clear that’s not happening,’

            It’s not clear at all.

            ‘ and he’s giving jobs to his mates.’

            Which has nothing whatever to do with your open and transparent assertion.

          • This is akin to commenting about Dracula being appointed as CEO of a blood bank and saying that any suggestion that he might have a certain bias is sheer hysteria. After all, he has not even started the job, let alone drank all the blood.

  4. Conveniently it would appear that at least one company chosen is likely to help Malcolm out:


    Meanwhile Tony is quite happy to decide broadband on ideological grounds, regardless of what Malcolm says:

    So disappointing to see petty politics played out.

    • So disappointing to see the Colation NBN policy as published in April and debated at length since then right up to the election being favored in any Coaltion who govern Australia review, rather than opposition policy.

      Who would have thought?

      • Which Coalition is that…(just to go somewhat off topic for a moment)? Haven’t really seen or heard much from any of them since the election…

        Oh that’s right they are proving me right that politicians are politicians, just with different branding…

        This mob too, as soon as elected, were off jet-setting around the world… just like Rudd did…

        But the usual suspects who whinged before now have nothing to say… hypocrites.

  5. KordaMentha are bankruptcy/insolvency experts…. perfect appointment for reviewing NBNco financials.

    • Haha yeah

      How do you manage such wit? Even your name show a knack for side-splitting humour.

      • Peter Korda and Mark Mentha achieved business media celebrity as Administrators of the historic Ansett bankruptcy. They leveraged their new found fame, quit their Big 4 partnership to hang out their own shingle. Their firm also specialises in forensic accounting… detecting cooked books. What’s so funny?

          • Indeed Observer, one could once again ironically say, haha yeah…

            Because notwithstanding one’s obvious wit (ahem)… our dear new, but old friend, in trying to impart such wit, has in one fell swoop just inadvertently undermined everything he and the other politically motivated party faithful had been previously, desperately trying to claim/infer, relating to MT’s transparency (or rather complete lack thereof)…

            haha yeah has clearly made your case, by highlighting the sort of expetise MT requires and exactly why he has chosen Peter Korda and Mark Mentha, to “do what they do best” in relation to NBNCo…

  6. The NBN Co’s new staff appointments looks like a who’s who of Telstra has-beens.
    One big fat echo-chamber of pro-FTTN sycophants for Malcolm to use to the LNP’s ends.

    I don’t care what he says, his lips are moving, therefore he’s a filthy liar.

    Once again, until he puts his money where his mouth is, there is still no change from the Malcolm Turnbull that wanted FTTN, anything he says is eligible for a retraction, “not a core promise” and other kinds of bullshit that pols use to squirm their way out of things they don’t want to do.

    He’s a rich Liberal, he doesn’t give a crap about FTTH/P, or the “peasants” that want it, if we let up for even a second he’ll screw everybody over for the maximum profit/savings.

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