Councils lobbying NBN Co for NBN preference

NBN Co chief says lobbying from local councils to have their electorates prioritised in NBN rollout is intense

NBN Co chief, Mike Quigley.

NBN Co chief, Mike Quigley.

NBN Co is coming under intense lobbying from local councils around Australia to prioritise NBN rollouts in their electorates, NBN Co chief executive, Mike Quigley, has said.

More on the National Broadband Network (NBN).

At the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) annual conference, Quigley said the company’s new plan to develop a national public information campaign — beginning with a 12-month network rollout plan followed by a three-year network rollout plan — would result in an intensification of current council lobbying.

“That will, obviously, get quite a bit of interest and no doubt that will heighten the amount of lobbying we are currently getting from councils all around Australia to say, ‘You really need to come here soon’,” he said.

“That is in fact a tough issue to deal with, but we are doing our best.”

In June, research commissioned by NBN Co found councils involved in first release sites for the NBN had struggled to prepare for the change and recommended hiring project managers to facilitate the rollout.

Among the key findings is councils believed their engagement with NBN Co was positive, but required a steep learning curve at the start of the project.

“Council staff had to understand the project scope, the impacts on their communities and then manage the exchange of data with NBN Co," the report reads.

"The clear recommendation for future councils was to be prepared for the project before it arrives."

Commenting further, Quigley said the information campaign — which the company had been directed to undertake by the federal government — would become a “core activity” for NBN Co in coming years.

“We will devote considerable resources to that as we do need to educate and inform consumers about what is happening,” he said.

“It will involve a widespread, as well as regional advertising, it will involve direct mail, online resources ... we have built and will grow a call centre to provide access for consumers and will do a lot of community engagement and stakeholder engagement.

"This really will be nationwide.”

Quigley said advertising campaign will start with a general awareness campaign, then move to a regional awareness campaign.

The 12-month report will include information on when the network will be built in various areas, steps consumers needed to take to migrate to the NBN, and details on how the existing copper network will be decommissioned.

Following the 12-month report, which is due out in a couple of weeks, the indicative three-year plan for the company’s activities through to 2014 will begin production.

Quigley's announcement follows multiple recommendations from the Joint Committee on the NBN that the company should do more to improve information flow to industry and the public.

Recommendations in the report included having NBN Co, together with the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, provide a six-monthly report on the progress of the NBN rollout.

The report also recommended that NBN Co publish timeframes for the rollout of NBN services to regional and remote areas, investigate the impact of the transition to the NBN on currently available levels of service for satellite technology, and formulate contingency plans against potential reduction of capacity in regional and remote areas as a consequence of the NBN rollout.

Follow Tim Lohman on Twitter: @Tlohman

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU

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