NBN to improve telco competition: Bill Morrow

Morrow has previously urged the government to use the NBN as a mechanism to enhance mobile competition

The newly appointed CEO of NBN Co, Bill Morrow, has shown his support for the current NBN plan, saying that it will improve telecom competition.

“By the NBN going in place in the white label wholesale model it will no doubt bring people that can’t afford, where it doesn’t make economic sense to deploy all of that capital… innovation and new services, strong consumer competition, good business competition,” he said at a media teleconference.

Morrow has previously urged the government to use the NBN as a mechanism to enhance mobile competition by lowering backhaul costs that mobile competitors Vodafone and Optus pay to Telstra to connect their base stations.

“I continue to advocate this; I think that is a smart move. If you look at building a big pipe that NBN is largely going to do, if you have a mobile backhaul product you are going to get quite a bit of data filling that pipe up and that’s good from a cashflow perspective. Therefore, it’s good for using tax payers' money in a most efficient manner.”

Morrow said he is still yet to go through all the details of the strategic review of the NBN, which was released today, but supports the idea of a mix of technologies.

“I believe Malcolm Turnbull has said on numerous occasions that the objective is to be able to get all Australians with good, high-quality Internet access, offering some competition, offering therefore the innovation and the growth of the ecosystem that comes from that. That in my mind can be technology agnostic – whether it’s fibre-to-the-node, fibre-to-the-home – a mix of [technologies].”

Morrow jumping ship

Telco analyst Paul Budde said it could be possible that Morrow jumped ship because he might have found Vodafone to be "a losing battle" as "customer losses simply kept on going".

"That job might have proven to be far too challenging," he said. "If that is the case, the sale of Vodafone Hutchison Australia could well be on the agenda.

"Bill Morrow has been on the head-hunters list ever since Quigley’s announcement in July, so they finally have been able to persuade them. Perhaps the reason why it took so long is that his job at Vodafone was far from finished."

Morrow said that is not at all the reason why he left Vodafone, defending the telco’s position in the market. “It had absolutely nothing to do with leaving because the job couldn’t be done or the company isn’t in a good position.

“I would have stuck around for another year but when the opportunity [came] to present itself at NBN Co, when I look at the stability that the company currently has, it’s one of those things that [came] together and that’s why I did what I did.

“We are seeing the brand perception scores go up, we are seeing our customer numbers go up, we are seeing growth come back into the business. So this is not an issue of it being too hard; it’s not an issue of bailing out or giving up on anything. I think you are going to see that in the results in the future.”