NBN Co’s Tasmanian subsidiary has moved to quell criticisms over a lack of engagement with local businesses and operators with the appointment of local small businessman, Darren Alexander, to the company’s board of directors.
Alexander, also chief executive of visualisation and professional colour software developer, Autech, told Computerworld Australia he was appointed to “stimulate the conversation around the benefits of the NBN and what it can do for regional Tasmania as well as the major cities”.
He will become one of the first locals on the board since NBN Tasmania chose not to renew the contracts of three previous Tasmanian members - Mark Kelleher, Dr Daniel Norton and Sean Woellner - in August. Kelleher and Woellner are still members of the board, according to the company’s website but Norton is not.
Alexander will join the likes of former Telstra executive and NBN Tasmania board chairman, Doug Campbell, Alison Terry, Jody Fassina and Greg McCann, as well as NBN Co chief financial officer, Jean-Pascal Beaufret.
However, Alexander will join amid criticisms of the Tasmanian company’s inability to properly engage with state-based operators and key clients, and a breakdown of joint venture talks with energy utility Aurora Energy.
Alexander would not comment on previous criticisms of the company but said he would attempt to better educate the Tasmanian private sector on the NBN as part of his appointment.
“They’re not understanding that the key benefits that will be there in other areas of health and education alone, in my opinion, there will certainly be a business case far exceeding what the other things are going to be,” he said.
“I personally have been a big supporter from the start - I think that’s what [Communications minister] Senator Conroy’s taken on board as well as [NBN Co chief] Mike Quigley,” he said.
“They’ve seen me a number of times speaking about it and I assume they think I have a lot to offer in the Tasmanian market and hence the fact they may need some people that can be positive about the benefits and the outcome and not look at it from a political point of view.”
Alexander first met Conroy and former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd when asked to speak at the Realising our Broadband Future forum in Sydney last year.
The Autech chief executive was also appointed to the state’s Digital Futures Advisory Council by Tasmanian Premier David Bartlett last week, along with Wotif.com founder, Graeme Wood, who earlier this year trashed the NBN as too narrow.
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