OzEmail chief executive officer Justin Milne has been recruited by Telstra to head up the telco giant's broadband business.
A vocal advocate of broadband technologies for several years, Milne has traditionally been very critical of Telstra for its cumbersome attempts at promoting broadband development in Australia.
In an interview with ARN in February last year, Milne said the rollout of broadband in Australia has been artificially delayed by inflated prices. He said Telstra was stalling broadband development as it would only result in the incumbent telco being asked to open up the local loop for competitors.
At the time, Milne named the Federal Government and Telstra as the two biggest inhibiting factors in online development. "We've got the infrastructure in place -- we have a telephone system that goes right into people's houses," he said. "That infrastructure alone could provide every Australian with serious broadband connection.
"However, Telstra won't make those twisted pairs available to their competitors. We [OzEmail] want to get access to those copper pairs and we think we have a right to get access to them. We think Australians have the right to get access to them. Those copper pairs don't belong to Telstra, they belong to the Australian people. We paid for those copper pairs to be laid with our taxes."
It was this kind of sentiment that eventually forced the hand of the various regulatory bodies to free up the telecommunications industry, and also encouraged Telstra to begin putting its marketing dollars behind broadband. With his new appointment, Milne has the opportunity to make a more direct impact on the rollout and price of broadband access in Australia.
"I am very much looking forward to assisting Telstra to meet its targets of having one million customers using its broadband networks in 2005 and generating one billion dollars in revenue the following year," Milne said in a prepared statement.
Meanwhile, OzEmail has appointed chief operating officer and Milne's former "right-hand man" Malcolm Smith as its new managing director following Milne's departure.
Smith has been responsible for OzEmail's business affairs for the past two years and previously held a number of senior media and technology management positions with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, MSN Australia, EquitiLink and the Australian Film Commission.
"I have worked closely with Justin over the years, and together we have set the direction of the company," said Smith.
"The past few years have been about improving the profitability of the business and diversifying the subscriber base; the next few will be about delivering a variety of high-speed services."