UPDATED: NBN Co chief, Bill Morrow, grilled at Senate Select Committee

UPDATED: NBN Co chief, Bill Morrow, grilled at Senate Select Committee

Senator Conroy accuses NBN Co of falling short of 2013 targets

NBN Co chief executive, Bill Morrow.

NBN Co chief executive, Bill Morrow.

NBN Co chief executive Bill Morrow has brushed off claims his staff aided in politicising the rollout of the NBN during questioning from Senator Stephen Conroy at the Senate Select Committee.

In a somewhat comical line of questioning from Senator Conroy, Morrow was forced to defend the actions of NBN Co chief operating officer, Greg Adcock, in describing the size of a fibre distribution hub as "large" as opposed to the "smaller" one.

The large and small fibre distribution hubs were unveiled at an event organised by Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull's office, earlier this year.

Adcock said he had been asked to attend to the event, organised by Communications Minister, Malcolm Turnbull's office, to explain the operation of the hub on a "factual" basis.

Morrow told the hearing if there was any case where political motivation was present in the operation of the company, he would deal with it.

The questioning, which kicked off the marathon hearing, followed an address from Morrow outlining NBN Co's progress.

Morrow said he was proud of the momentum and the progress the company had made to stabilise the rollout.

"At 30 June 2014, the network had been made ready for service for 658,000 premises, we had activated more than 210,000 homes and businesses and had made substantial steps in our transformation strategy.”

According to a company statement, NBN Co met its forecast of more than 380,000 brownfield premises Ready for Service, (passing more than 422,000 premises under the old measure) and activating more than 105,000 services.

"NBN Co had also overcome earlier issues in the New Development area such as housing estates and shopping centres passing more than 111,000 premises with near 46,000 of these premises activated," it said.

However, Conroy accused the company of not meeting the target of 450,000 premises passed, which the company set in in November 2013.

"It is self evident you did not meet those targets," he said."

Morrow told the hearing the board had reset the targets following the strategic review.

"450,000 was before the strategic review," he said. "The context of the targets being met, as set by the board, have been so."

Adcock said changes had been made the way the company would measure its progress following the review.

The key metric is now serviceable premises as opposed to premises passed.

Morrow said the team had also quadrupled its efforts in Fixed Wireless over the 12 months.

"NBN Co closed out the Financial Year by switching on 366 fixed wireless facilities in the year, enabling access for more than 112,000 premises with more than 16,000 Australians already using the network," he said.

"While there has been an ongoing effort throughout the year, these achievements are a result of the hardworking employees, contractors and third party partners under the direction of a new leadership team.

"We have seen a significant uplift in performance and morale in the past several months. This is important not only because we have surpassed our forecast, but because the team has done so in a year of incredible uncertainty and change,” Mr Morrow said.

The NBN Co and Telstra have also recently launched a construction pilot to trial 1,000 nodes in the Fibre-to-the-Node deployment across Queensland and New South Wales announced last month.

Morrow said the company was heading in the right direction and was very focused on creating an environment that engendered success and translated to quicker access for all Australians to a fast, affordable NBN.

"While we still have a way to go on customer satisfaction during the installation process in particular, I believe we have identified some of the root causes behind some of the more common poor customer experiences. We will work hard to bring our scores up," he said.

"At year end we achieved a customer satisfaction score of 6.4, just shy of a 6.7 target."

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Tags Malcolm Turnbullnbn coStephen ConroyBill Morrow

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