news The NBN company’s staff is leaking internal documents because they are in a “rebellion” against the Multi-Technology Mix model which is being foisted against them, Labor MP Ed Husic said yesterday, in a fiery speech which also touched upon the lack of suitability of HFC cable for the NBN network.
The NBN project has suffered a prolonged spate of damaging leaks over the past few months, with all aspects of the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix revamping of the project having controversial details exposed to the Opposition and elements of the media such as Delimiter.
The leaks have shown a number of major problems with the MTM model, ranging from increased costs associated with Telstra’s copper network, to issues with Optus’ HFC cable network, to delays with the NBN company’s Fibre to the Node build. The latest leak this morning shows that the NBN company has carried out a secret trial of a new fibre model which could dramatically bring the cost of a full Fibre to the Premise rollout down.
Speaking in the House of Representatives yesterday (see the full speech above), Labor’s Ed Husic — who holds Shadow Parliamentary Secretary roles to both the Shadow Treasurer and the Leader of the Opposition — said the leaks occurred due to the disillusionment of the NBN company’s own staff with the Coalition’s controversial model.
NBN chief executive Bill Morrow, Husic said, was now in “defensive mode trying to work out why there is leak after leak from his own organisation.”
“NBN Co’s internal organisation are in revolt,” said Husic. “They are in a rebellion. They do not believe in their heart of hearts that the network that is being foisted upon the Australian public by those opposite is one that will deliver, and that is why they are leaking. They do not have confidence in the CEO and they do not have confidence in [NBN Co chair] Ziggy Switkowski.”
“That is why you have an organisation in revolt. That is why consumers are in revolt over this. And that is why we are being misled about this network rollout by those opposite—and they stand condemned for it.”
Husic also took aim at the unsuitability of the Telstra and Optus HFC cable networks for the NBN project. Labor’s original model would have done away with the legacy networks, but the Coalition is acquiring them and upgrading them instead.
The Member for Chifley said fellow Labor MP Michelle Rowland — who, like Husic, has substantial experience in dealing with the telco sector — had pointed out on a number of occasions that the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission had said that the HFC networks were not fit for purpose, as had Optus.
“My own constituents tell me that the HFC network is not fit for purpose,” said Husic.
“They say, ‘It is fantastic; it gives you great speeds at 4AM.’ That is what they tell me. They tell me that Malcolm Turnbull’s network provides you excellent download speeds if you get up at 4AM and no-one else is on that network.”
Husic said the HFC networks could not work when a lot of people used them simultaneously, a principle which he said was “bizarre” when applied to the NBN.
“You have this huge demand from people wanting a modern broadband network and they are told, ‘You can get it, but if a lot of you use it it will be slow; so don’t use it.’,” he said.
Referring to the Black Adder TV comedy TV series, Husic sarcastically said the MTM model represented a “cunning plan”.
“It is a broadband network absolutely designed by Blackadder’s Baldrick,” said Husic.
“And it may be the case that Baldrick is on the management team of NBN Co … You have the CEO, Bill Morrow, who turns up to Senate estimates and is asked a series of questions about the network he is managing and probably 90 per cent of the questions that were raised with him were taken on notice.”
“If this was a person who had command of the facts and was such a singularly impressive management representative, as the minister is suggesting, you would think he would be able to answer questions. But he cannot.”
I am in regular contact with a number of people inside the NBN company, and I must say that Husic is accurate. Quite a few of the company’s staff are extremely angry about the MTM model, which they see as a ridiculous perversion of the originally pure (in an engineering sense) NBN FTTP vision.
There is a reason that there are a constant stream of leaks from within the NBN company, and it’s not because it’s sunshine and ponies over there. As Bill Morrow has pointed out, morale at the NBN company is improving these days somewhat from the dark days of the 2013 Federal Election. But things have not improved enough to stop everyone from being angry at what is going on.