NBN Co taps Telstra wholesale lead to replace Rousselot in ‘expanded transformation-led role’

NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia’s national broadband network has named Will Irving as its Chief Strategy and Transformation Officer.

With less than twelve months of intensive construction left, NBN Co said Irving’s depth of corporate experience and leadership would prove critical to help the national network builder transform into a full-scale service delivery company.

“Will’s proven track record in telecommunications will allow NBN Co to evolve our operating model and maintain a sharp focus on our customer-led strategy,” said NBN Co CEO Stephen Rue.

NBN Co said Irving’s appointment followed JB Rousselot’s decision to leave after six years of outstanding service. “In that time JB has held a number of key roles across the company from leading our strategy team through to scaling our network operations,” Rue added.

“JB’s contribution will be felt for many years to come,” Rue continued. “Since joining NBN Co he has been a key member of the leadership team and a driving force in ensuring that NBN Co is well positioned to complete the build by June 2020.”

Irving joins NBN Co following two decades at Telstra where his career spanned the legal and regulatory portfolios. More recently, he headed the telco’s wholesale business including forming and leading Telstra InfraCo.

Rousselot will remain with NBN Co until October to ensure a seamless handover. Irving will commence his new role on 1 October.

8×8 readies for rapid ANZ growth, picks Perth-based Scope Logic as WA, SA partner

8×8 has selected Perth based IT and services specialist Scope Logic as a new strategic partner in Western Australia and South Australia, in a bid to speed up its footprint in both states to meet rising demand for cloud-based voice and contact centre services.

In addition, 8×8 will enable Scope Logic Group to offer organisations a cloud-based customer experience platform combining voice, video, chat and contact centre capabilities.

8×8 APAC VP Brendan Maree emphasised the company’s rapid growth in Australia and New Zealand, adding: “We want to increase our momentum further in 2019. The best way to achieve our goals is to appoint more partners and particularly those with a regional presence such as Scope Logic Group.”

“The company is a great fit for 8×8 enabling us to bolster their collaboration solutions portfolio while being able to provide end user organisations with the potential for new customer experiences,” he said.

Established in 2008, Scope Logic has grown from delivering managed technical solutions into a leading cloud solutions provider specialising in implementing digital transformation for customer engagement, operational efficiency and data security.

Identity theft scams, what to look out for: Sophos

According to the ACCC, Australians have lost $16 million to identity theft so far this year and with cybercriminals targeting online user scrambling to file their tax returns, many Aussies are vulnerable to the growing sophistication of their scams.

“With so much of what we do being online, it’s important that users know how to identify a scam, protect themselves from the attack and know what to do if they’ve been involved in a scam,” a Sophos spokesperson told Telecom Times.

Sophos’ Global Solutions Engineer Aaron Bugal said that in terms of spotting scams, emails or texts urging Australians to visit a web page and enter their username, password or specific personal details were often the largest indicator of a scam.

“These web pages are most likely not really who they say they are, if it looks or feels unofficial then find the website yourself by manually typing the URL or clicking a link from a trusted web search engine, said Bugal. 

How to prevent yourself from falling prey to a phishing attack

“Be weary of anything that asks for your personal details when it doesn’t seem appropriate to provide them. For example;

  • Text messages and emails from people or organisations you aren’t expecting to hear from – question why they’d need your banking or personal details
  • Surveys – why would a survey require your email password?
  • Organisations that service you – if an organisation (such as your bank) already has your personal information, why would they be asking you for it again?”

 What to do if you’ve been involved in a scam?

Sophos suggested that if one found to have been a victim of a scam involving identity theft, consumers contact their bank immediately and change all passwords. “For additional support, you can contact IDCARE; Australia and New Zealand’s national identity and cyber support service,” it said.

Vocus chief spruiks turnaround effort as AGL withdraws A$3b deal

Vocus Group CEO Kevin Russell has reminded shareholders that the company is in the midst of a three-year turnaround effort after the latest in a series of potential buyers walked away from the takeover table.

AGL Energy announced on 17 June it had decided to cease due diligence on Vocus Group and withdraw the non-binding proposal to acquire the telco it had announced just days before.

According to AGL managing director and CEO Brett Redman, the energy company was “no longer confident that an acquisition of Vocus at the proposed terms would represent sufficient certainty of creating value for AGL shareholders.”

At the same time, Redman maintained that AGL believes there will be material opportunities for the company as energy and data value streams continue to converge and the traditional energy sector accelerates its transformation.

“The approach to Vocus reflected our view that the Vocus asset base has attributes that could support the execution of this strategy and benefit our customers,” Redman said.

AGL pitched its multibillion-dollar proposal to shareholders on 11 June, saying at the time that it had been granted exclusive access to conduct due diligence on the telco for a period of four weeks.

The takeover proposal, worth just over A$3 billion, came almost exactly a week after another potential suitor, Scandanavian private equity group EQT Infrastructure, pulled out of its own non-binding takeover play for Vocus, scrapping a deal that would have been worth nearly A$3.27 billion.

At the time, Russell reiterated earlier comments that Vocus was in the early stages of a business turnaround and maintained that the company had “great confidence” that its strategy would deliver significant value in the medium to long-term.

Now, following the withdrawal of AGL from the negotiating table, Russell has once again pointed to the company’s turnaround activities.

“As we have repeatedly said, this is a three-year turnaround,” he said, noting that with the AGL deal off the table, the Vocus management team will now be able to focus all of its attention on “realising the opportunity that we have ahead of us.”

ACCC fixes software glitch behind early TPG-VHA merger rejection announcement

Australia’s competition watchdog has patched its website content management system (CMS) and apologised, after publishing its decision on TPG’s proposed merger with Vodafone Hutchison Australia (VHA) before it was meant to be made public.

In a somewhat unprecedented move, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) released a statement on 16 May explaining how it accidentally published its rejection of the proposed TPG-VHA Australia merger a day before it was expected to reveal its decision.

“We apologise unreservedly for this unfortunate and serious incident,” ACCC chief operating officer Rayne de Gruchy said.

“We have thoroughly reviewed all of the processes and information technology systems that led to this error, and we want to assure our stakeholders this incident will not be repeated,” she said.

The publication of the decision to reject the merger sent the share price of both TPG and VHA’s 50 percent stakeholder Hutchison Telecommunications tumbling.

The ACCC said it had conducted a full investigation into the incident and claims that a fault in its website CMS, which has now been rectified thanks to a software patch, was to blame.

According to the regulator, when the information relating to the merger was being put into the back end of the mergers register, a third-party user was trying to access the existing webpage at the same moment as it was being updated.

“Instead of the new information being treated as draft content requiring internal approval, the flaw meant the content was live for eight minutes,” the ACCC said in its statement.

The information went live just before 3PM, giving the ACCC the opportunity to quickly issue a statement confirming the merger decision to both the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) before the end of the trading day.

The ACCC’s rejection of the merger, which could effectively put an end to TPG’s ongoing efforts to become a major player in the country’s mobile telco market, saw VHA and TPG move to launch legal action against the regulator over the decision.

VHA CEO Iñaki Berroeta said on 9 May that the company remains firmly committed to the merger.

“VHA respects the ACCC process, but we believe the merger with TPG will bring very real benefits to consumers.  We have therefore decided that VHA should, together with TPG, pursue approval of the merger through the Federal Court,” said Berroeta.

The merger agreement between VHA and TPG has been extended to 31 August 2020 to allow the legal proceedings to run their course before the proposed deal lapses.

5G Fixed Wireless will need combined mid-band, mmWave spectrum: Netcomm

NetComm Director of Technology Strategy Els Baert has warned mobile operators not to get side-tracked by early reports of poor performance by millimetre-wave (mmWave) technology in 5G field trials to start with 5G Fixed Wireless.

In her keynote address at the Big 5G Event 2019 in Denver, Baert tipped 5G Fixed Wireless as  the application that will generate revenue for 5G while we work towards getting the new applications up and running.

“We all knew that mmWave would have its challenges and there were no guarantees on the performance of the technology.with these latest trials, it’s becoming more and more clear for the industry that considering 5G in mmWave alone, won’t be enough to be successful. 5G is much more than that.

“mmWave is certainly part of the 5G landscape but it is only one part of a much broader suit of spectrum assets that will be used.

“The reality of 5G – especially when we are talking about 5G Fixed Wireless deployment – is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are going to be several different deployment mechanisms for operators in the field.

“We will see operators operating 5G Fixed Wireless services over a combination of spectrum bands using both the mid-band and mmWave.

“The mid-band frequencies have shown that reliable high-speed services can be delivered as they are being deployed in rural areas to connect the even most remote locations. By using this spectrum as a base, operators can guarantee a consistent performance from the technology.

“However, these operators can still make very effective usage of mmWave spectrum in certain locations where it’s suitable, this is by no means a zero-sum game.

“The mmWave spectrum can be used to top up the speeds offered over the mid-band to allow for peak speeds of the much sought-after gigabits per second.

“From a launch perspective we need to see operators delivering reliable and stable 5G Fixed Wireless services into the marketplace in order to build customer confidence in the technology as early as possible.

“The best way to ensure this will be to see operators focus their initial 5G Fixed Wireless launches in the mid-range bands.”

Australians’ international roaming bill put at $1.4B

Australian mobile phone users have spent somewhere in the vicinity of $1.4 billion on international roaming fees, according to new estimates by market research agency YouGov Galaxy.

The study, commissioned by Vodafone Australia as a vehicle to tout the telco’s $5-per-day international roaming product, suggests that up to 5 million Australians have been subjected to international roaming fees.

Of these 5 million people — who represent about 41 percent of smartphone owners in Australia — the average international roaming fee per person comes to $290, the research suggests, equating to about $1.45 billion in total. It should be noted that this figure is not restricted to a particular period of time.

The study also suggests that around 250,000 Australians claim to have paid more than $1,000 in international roaming fees.

Interestingly, the research found that Australian Baby Boomers — those born between 1946 and 1964 — were far less likely to have been charged international roaming fees than younger Australians, with just 29 percent having paid roaming fees. This is compared to 45 percent and 51 percent for Millenials and Gen X, respectively.

Regardless of the billion-dollar estimated total amount paid for international roaming by Australians, Vodafone Australia’s chief commercial officer Ben McIntosh claims that just 3 percent of smartphone users will continue to use their phone as normal while travelling.

While this percentage may seem small, international roaming has been under some scrutiny recently, with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) wrapping up a review of the International Mobile Roaming (IMR) Standard in Australia in October last year.

According to the review’s report, released in October 2018, there were some key areas found that could be improved upon “to make regulation more flexible in light of changes to mobile phone use overseas”.

“TIO [Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman] data indicates that complaints to it about IMR services has risen again in recent years. While complaint numbers remain low, the amounts in dispute per complaint can be high,” the report said.

The Vodafone-commissioned YouGov Galaxy study comes just a few months after industry analysis firm Juniper Research found that operator revenues from international mobile roaming are expected to remain flat over the next four years, representing about 6 percent of total operator-billed revenues and $51 billion in value.