Telstra’s networks chief, Mike Wright, prepares to depart

Wright leaves after close to four decades at the telco

Telstra’s group managing director, networks, Mike Wright, will leave the telco at the end of September.

Since mid-2013 Wright has overseen the network engineering function at Telstra. He first joined Telstra, then Telecom, as a graduate in 1980 — ahead of the first mobile phone call made on the company’s network in 1981.

“Mike is one of the most widely respected network engineering leaders in the world,” said Telstra’s chief operations officer, Robyn Denholm.

“He has made a huge contribution over many years and he will leave an impressive legacy in Telstra’s world class wireless and fixed networks, which keep millions of Australian consumers and businesses connected every day.”

“Under Mike’s guidance, Telstra has been a leader in deploying new network technologies,” Denholm said in a statement.

A Telstra spokesperson said more details on Wright’s replacement will be revealed ahead of the executive’s departure.

Wright will leave as Telstra prepares to offer the next generation of wireless services over its mobile network.

By the first half of FY19, Telstra has said it will have a network that is 5G-ready. Services based on the new wireless standard will be capable of offering faster downloads and lower latency compared to 4G.

Importantly for Australia’s telcos, 5G will also be able to better handle the increasing number of devices that rely on wireless communication, helping open up new business opportunities.

With Telstra feeling the squeeze as Australia transitions to the National Broadband Network, 5G can help reduce the cost per bit of network traffic compared to 4G.

Wright’s departure also comes as the telco undertakes a massive restructure as part of its ‘Telstra2022’ strategy.

Telstra is planning to spin out much of its infrastructure — with the notable exception of its core mobile network infrastructure — into a separate ‘InfraCo’ business.

The company is also planning to reduce its headcount by 8000 as it deals with the impact of the NBN and increased mobile infrastructure.

“I joined Telstra as a graduate in 1980 and it has been my pleasure to work with a brilliant group of people over the years,” Wright said.

“I am very proud of everything we have achieved and I will be leaving Telstra in a few months knowing that the team is on the cusp of great success in bringing the next generation of networks to Telstra’s customers.”

“The time is right for me to enjoy a break and then take a new direction in my career,” the telco executive said. “I wish the company and its people every success.”

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