Bush-first NBN build was back to front says NBN Co CEO

David Morrow tells Tasmania building in cities would have given NBN Co experience to tackle tougher spots

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow has told a TasICT gathering that the original National Broadband Network (NBN) rollout plan, which prioritised regional areas to receive fibre first, was a mistake.

Speaking to the IT industry group TasICT on Monday evening, Morrow added that the rollout schedules announced by the previous government had been unrealistic.

The Tasmanian rollout was the source of much angst for NBN Co. Originally the whole state was slated to get the first fibre rollouts as a kind of large-scale pilot, but the rollout stalled amid arguments with subcontractors.

Prior to the island state's 2014 election, the Labor party tried to salvage the fibre rollout by offering access to its electricity poles for free. However, the state has since been incorporated into the fibre-copper hybrid “Multi-Technology Model” (MTM).

That had led to a hostile relationship between TasICT and NBN Co, something that Morrow was seeking to put to rest by speaking to the group's “Tapas and Technology” evening.

Tasmania's The Examiner reports Morrow's comments that the regional-first approach was wrong.

“Starting the rollout in the more difficult places first has caused the bulk of consumer-based problems Tasmania has seen to date,” he said. A metro rollout first would have provided NBN Co the chance to learn what it was doing rather than burning through taxpayer dollars.

The shift to the MTM would let NBN Co complete Tasmania's rollout by 2020, Morrow said.

The Hobart Mercury believes TasICT has accepted the olive branch from Morrow, quoting executive director Dean Winter as saying the group has adopted a new policy to be “more supportive of the project”. ®

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