Home Telecoms & NBN Laurie Patton resumes CEO role at Internet Australia

Laurie Patton resumes CEO role at Internet Australia

Laurie Patton has taken up the reins as chief executive of Internet Australia again, he confirmed to iTWire today.

Patton said in response to queries, "Yes I’ve have stepped into the role of executive director this week and Anne Hurley has reverted to non-executive chair.

"The role of CEO was always part-time (three days a week) and I have always done other things on the side.

"When I resigned earlier in the year to do something too big for both roles, Anne took on the executive chair role and I was appointed to a casual vacancy on the board. As you and (iTWire's) Peter (Dinham) would know I continued to work in the background – sending our news releases, etc.

"My passion for IA and the role it plays is undiminished. To me, the most important role for IA is to keep campaigning for #BetterBroadband."

An indication that Patton had resumed the role of CEO came on Wednesday night when he appeared on national TV, and was referred to as chief executive by host Waleed Aly on Ten's The Project.

Patton quit as CEO on 7 February, after more than two years heading the advocacy and lobby group that represents Internet users.

At that time, Patton told iTWire's Dinham that he had been poached by an as-yet unnamed group to join them and that the new role would allow him to "use my skills in advocacy and communications to help a wider range of organisations". He later announced that this unnamed group was IAP2 Australasia, the peak body representing practitioners in the fields of public participation and community engagement.

He told Dinham he had taken on this unpaid advisory role as he was keen to help IA “maintain its primary advocacy for a 21st century broadband network".

Laurie Patton.

Laurie Patton appears on Ten's The Project on Wednesday night. Screenshot courtesy Channel Ten.

Hurley was installed as CEO shortly before his announcement.

On The Project, Patton appeared during a segment dealing with the NBN and was introduced by Aly as the "chief executive of Internet Australia".

"What we are building now is a dud really," Patton told Aly in response to a question. "Pretty much everyone south of the equator is starting to work that out."

He said the NBN would probably cost a lot more than originally planned and take a lot longer to be completed.

When the other host Carrie Bickmore asked Patton how long it would take before parts of the NBN needed to be rebuilt, Patton replied: "We are using aging copper wires now instead of 21st century fibre. So when they finish it, if they finish it in 2021, it will be about five (or) 10 years before they'll have to rebuild that part of the network."

Asked whether consumers would have to switch to the NBN compulsorily, Patton replied, "No, once the NBN is in your area and fired up, you've got 18 months to transfer across. You don't have any choice."

When Aly asked whether this meant whether people would be forced to pay more for an inferior service, Patton said theoretically the NBN was a better service.

"But basically what we're hearing more and more is that people are signing up and not getting what they thought they were going to get. And we're also hearing of people who are signing up for the NBN and finding their speeds are slower than they had their old ADSL."

When comedian Peter Helliar queried as to what could be done, Patton said there was now an intermediate technology known as fibre-to-the-driveway or FttDP. "If they move to that, then at least we're most of the way and we can replace the little bit between the driveway and the home at some future stage.

"So, there's a middle ground, and we really need to get the government and the Opposition to both agree that what we've got at the moment is not good enough and let's find something that's at least better than what we're doing now."

Aly then pointed out that Labor's initial plan had been criticised on grounds of the expenditure and asked if that criticism was still valid.

"Look, firstly it's costing a lot more for the old copper wire version that originally said for the fibre version," Patton replied. "But look, it's a bit like roads, and rail and electricity and water. The Internet now is a basic service. It's not just something optional.

"So why are we arguing about the cost? We've gotta have one, the idea is let's build one and build one that will last for 20 or 30 years."


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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.