Vodafone’s Morrow new NBN Co CEO: AFR



blog Wondering who the new National Broadband Network chief executive will be? So are we, and reportedly we’re going to find out very shortly. The Financial Review reports this morning (we recommend that you click here for the full article) that it will be a near and somewhat dear face from Australia’s telecommunications industry, Vodafone Australia chief executive Bill Morrow:

“Vodafone chief executive officer Bill Morrow will be crowned the new CEO of the NBN on Thursday as the government releases a strategic review of the NBN.”

The news will be bittersweet for many. As we’ll go into later today if he is indeed appointed, Morrow is a very experienced telecommunications executive, with a history mainly in wireless networking but also some fixed networking. He’s widely respected, very capable, and a very good fit for the NBN. Your writer has met Morrow a number of times and always come away impressed by the executive’s candour and positivity. Unlike former NBN Co chief Mike Quigley, Morrow is a salesman; but he’s an honest, transparent and technically savvy one. He’s a good guy.

However, for Vodafone the news is all bad. Morrow’s credibility as a turnaround king has been one of the only things keeping the company afloat in Australia. We suspect that with Morrow departing the mobile company halfway through its own turnaround, that Vodafone Australia will suffer greatly and that its resurrection will become far less than assured.

We’ll find out more at the very latest after 12pm. FYI, this morning at 10AM Delimiter and a number of other media outlets will enter a two-hour lockdown briefing session with NBN Co and Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull to go through the company’s Strategic Review, in a briefing style which is a bit like the annual Federal Budget lockup. This is happening because of the complexity of the report, which will take some digesting. We won’t be able to communicate from the session, but the doors will open at 12pm so that we can outline everything to y’all. See you on the other side.

And here’s the official NBN Co media release about Morrow’s appointment:

Thursday, 12 December 2013 – Global telecommunications executive Bill Morrow will steer the National Broadband Network through the next stage of its development.

The Vodafone Australia CEO has been appointed Chief Executive Officer of NBN Co Limited, the company responsible for delivering Australia’s nationwide fixed-line broadband upgrade. He will join the company in the New Year and will be based in Sydney.

Mr Morrow’s appointment by the Board of NBN Co comes as the company lays out the framework for delivering very fast broadband to Australian homes and businesses sooner and at less cost to taxpayers than previously was the case. The new approach is contained in the Strategic Review of the NBN which the company presented to the Government today.

Announcing the appointment, NBN Co Executive Chairman Dr Ziggy Switkowski said: “I am delighted that a senior business leader of the calibre of Bill Morrow has agreed to accept the challenge of delivering the long-promised upgrade to Australia’s broadband infrastructure. Bill’s experience extends not only to running major telecommunications businesses but, from his time at Clearwire in the United States, also building a large scale network. He possesses the right mix of talent, experience and deep knowledge of the telecommunications industry to ensure NBN Co can get the job done.”

Mr Morrow said:“I staunchly believe that this important initiative, done right, will provide a boon to the nation’s economy. The digital revolution is picking up speed. With the right infrastructure and industry collaboration, Australia will reap the benefits for decades to come. While I am sad to be leaving a great company like Vodafone, I am looking forward to rolling up my sleeves and ensuring every Australian is able to benefit from a world class National Broadband Network.”

The position description for the role of CEO sought a business leader with experience in telecommunications and network construction, as well as an understanding of fixed line infrastructure and an appreciation of the special characteristics of the Australian industry and the needs of consumers, with the attendant responsibilities associated with heading a large and high profile Government Business Enterprise with a substantial program of work still ahead.

The successful applicant also required experience in organisational transformation and change management and the ability to form and lead high performance teams.

“The NBN Co board is convinced that Bill uniquely satisfies these criteria and, with the support of the Shareholder Ministers, is very pleased to make this appointment,” Dr Switkowski said.

Image credit: Vodafone


  1. So much for needing construction experience to be CEO of NBN Co hey?
    Turnbull needs to be asked why he has backflipped on this previously key requirement.

    • but vodafone is know for its excellent network isn’t it?

      Interesting that he will be based in Sydney, and not at head office in Melbourne

      • “but vodafone is know for its excellent network isn’t it?”

        “Morrow’s credibility as a turnaround king”, but at least vodafone had a network to turnaround. With the NBN it’s more like raising the Titanic or resurrecting Lazarus from the dead.

        • That’s rather disingenuous. It’s true that the last-mile roll-out of fibre to the premises has hit significant delays relating to asbestos in the pits and some contractors being unable to live up to their (probably unrealistic) contracts, but all of the foundations and the backbone of the network (e.g. the Transit network) are in place; NBN Co is in a very good position now to roll out FTTP and FTTN. It’s true that there will be a new learning curve for FTTN, so perhaps you’re right that turning the network around 180 degrees from an FTTP rollout towards an FTTN rollout will have a difficulty akin to raising the Titanic or resurrecting Lazarus from the dead. I wish the new NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow well.

    • I don’t know the answer to this question, so it’s genuine: Did the huge losses of customers and cash begin before or during Morrow’s stint as CEO?

      • i believe before , but it hasnt slowed down (yet) and it possibly increased after his appointment .

        there was some reports the bleeding has stopped but they are still not profitable

        • So on the one hand he can’t really be blamed for its losses, but on the other hand maybe the best that can be said is that he was no worse than his predecessors.

  2. Yes he has Telco experience, that translates poorly to National Communications infrastructure experience

    Hopefully he has the ability to make the conceptual and practical transition

    Very doubtful, but what choice do we have but to hope

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