NBN Co chief claims leaked Melton pilot has a 'bad smell'

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NBN Co chief claims leaked Melton pilot has a 'bad smell'

Denies report is an official company document.

NBN Co has continued to challenge the validity of a leaked report suggesting fibre-to-the-premise could have been rolled out cheaper and faster than originally forecast.

Under intense questioning from former communications minister Stephen Conroy in a parliamentary NBN committee hearing today, NBN Co’s three most senior executives repeatedly stressed that the document’s findings had not been thoroughly reviewed.

The leaked document, first published by Fairfax earlier this month, claimed NBN Co could roll out FTTP 60 percent faster and at much lower cost if it adopted a mathematically generated rollout model.

The claims were based on the result of a pilot rollout involving 2482 homes in Melton, Victoria, in which NBN Co tested new rollout methods outlined in the company’s strategic review initiated by former chief executive, Mike Quigley.

NBN Co CEO Bill Morrow today stressed the document was not official and its claims had not been thoroughly tested. He said NBN Co senior management only became aware of the document when it was published in the media.

It would have been irresponsible for NBN Co to endorse the document without review, he said.

"It might turn out .. that there are heaps of savings behind these various projects and trials that we have under way and I hope, in fact there are, and once we can validate and ... once we can make commitment and keep it then, of course, we will bake these in," Morrow told the committee.

“This whole thing is premature and has a bad smell to it in different areas, and until we can flush this thing out we’re left in this quandary of ‘is it misguided?’ ‘Is it accurate? ‘Is it just someone that has left the company who’s misguided that wants to be able to push for a fibre-to-the-prem because they don't like the MTM model?’ ‘Is there political motivations behind all of this?’ We don’t know."

NBN Co chief operating officer Greg Adcock similarly told the committee the document was unreliable.

“It had not reached the executive yet because the assertions made in it had not been peer reviewed, and that review is still ongoing."

Committee chair Conroy accused NBN Co of deliberately lying about the pilot in a blog posted by the company following the publication of the leaked document, which denied the existence of the Melton trial.

“What is the committee to think when an officer of NBN Co misleads the public by stating a bald-faced lie?” Conroy said.

Morrow said NBN Co’s management team had been unaware of the document when it first surfaced publicly and assumed it was “doctored”.

“Senator we’ve got a million things that we are doing. The very fact that we have to chase the media around for this is nonsense… because we know about this now of course we will follow up and make this a priority but, every time something hits the news, there’s no way I’m going to tell management ‘stop what you’re doing and focus on this’. That would be ridiculous”.

Adcock told the committee he hoped the review of the document’s findings would be completed within a couple of weeks.

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