Former Telstra Business MD chairs new govt broadband council

Former Telstra Business MD chairs new govt broadband council

Focused on the NBN and 5G boosting the economy’s output and its usage

Credit: ID 167204921 © Melpomenem |

The federal government has established the Australian Broadband Advisory Council to provide the government with advice to improve the nation’s internet connectivity, with Deena Shiff appointed as its chair.

The focus of the Council is to look at the National Broadband Network (NBN) and 5G networks and how it can boost Australia's economic output, increasing the technologies’ use and the related cultural and financial barriers for its usage.

Shiff has held a number of chairperson and directorial positions since 2006, with two of her directorial roles being the group managing director for Telstra Business from 2006 to 2011 and Telstra Ventures from August 2011  to January 2013.

Currently, Shiff is the chairperson of Marley Spoon, Australian Centre for China in the World, ARC Centre of Excellence for Automated Decisions and Society and CRC Alertness Safety & Productivity. Additionally, she is also a director at Appen, Infrastructure Australia and Opera Australia.

In addition to Shiff, the other members of the Council include Bronte Adams, Martin Haese, Scott Lorson, Jan Müller, Georgina Somerset and Zareh Nalbandian, who have all had previous chairperson, board member or directorial positions, past and present.

Paul Fletcher, Minister for communications, cybersafety and the arts, said the Council will also look for ways digital connectivity can help Australia’s economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Digital connectivity has been at the centre of people’s lives and livelihoods throughout COVID-19, with businesses and consumers rapidly embracing online means for productivity, connectivity and social cohesion,” Fletcher said.

“This was underlined by a recent data showing NBN usage soaring up to 70 per cent during work hours, with 83 per cent of Australians crediting the NBN as being vital for doing their jobs.

“We are just getting started with the benefits that fast broadband can provide, and Australia is uniquely placed with the NBN as backbone of the nation’s digital economy.

"Having completed the initial volume build and with the network available to more than 11.7 million homes and business, the NBN is moving into its next phase, and the Broadband Advisory Council will help us to think broadly and boldly about the ways we can maximise the benefits of Australia’s largest infrastructure project and leverage it to drive long-term economic and social benefits across all sectors of the economy.”

As the Council will deal in part with 5G advice, the 5G Working Group, an advice group for 5G-related issues previously managed by the Department of Communications, will be merged with the Council and act as a sub-group. 

This isn’t the first time Shiff has been involved with a government advisory body of some description, with being appointed to a NSW government digital economy industry taskforce in 2011.

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