While the Greens and independent senators question the Government over reports it will not hand over the NBN business plan until next month, 100 movers and shakers from the Australian Utilities sector were treated to a detailed overview of the NBN Company and its key policies at the NG Utilities Australia Summit, held last week on 8th-10th November at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort and Spa, Gold Coast. In this closed door environment the key objectives and challenges facing the rollout of a national broadband network were openly debated and discussed with particular focus on how it will relate, engage and generally work with the Energy & Utility Sector.
Summit Spokesperson Tyron McGurgan commented today, that "perhaps we should have extended an invitation to the Senate to join us in these in depth NBN discussions. The utilities industry is facing enormous change and challenges and the NG Utilities Summit happened to be taking place at the right time, with the right people involved for the sector. The utilities sector is experiencing an unprecedented paradigm shift that holds promise of opportunity, but knowledge of significant risk. Our summit ensured that we gave the industry elite ample opportunity to have their heads down for real debate and detailed discussions. These changes will pave the future for the utilities industry as it will for Australia, we all just want to make an informed decisions".
The timing of the NG Utilities Summit comes more than 18months on from the announcement of the Rudd Government's grand NBN plan. With comments out today from Opposition Communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull stating "The Government will say or do anything to obstruct transparency and avert independent analysis of the most expensive public infrastructure project in Australian history", it's a shame that Malcolm wasn't able to participate in the NG Utility Summit's keynote led by Gareth Simmons - GM Commercial Strategy Networks, NBN Co.
Gareth Simmons, led a fantastic discussion and analysed the NBN plan. Summit audience members included the country's top utility industry executives, such as, Ian McLeod - CEO, Ergon Energy, Jim Mitchell - MD, Synergy, Peter Birk - CTO, Energy Australia, and Brad Page - CEO, Energy Supply Association of Australia, inevitably this resulted in conversations that consisted of real content and in depth analysis.
Summit spokesperson Tyron McGurgan surmised from the discussions that there is understandable confusion in the sector and executives were asking hard questions throughout. With such change taking place for the sector there was a resounding sense of wanting to know where it is going and what could the implications be. I feel the Utilities sector believes the concept of the NBN is a positive one and has substantial benefits for the sector in the long term. However there are real concerns about how the NBN will integrate with the current network infrastructure and with such enormous change, how great will the adjustment period be. It was a fascinating few days.
The consortium of industry executives plan to review the NBN's development at the NG Utilities Summit in August, 2011 deeming that the sector at this point needs to stay on top of the changes, by keeping industry information channels open regarding the NBN roll out given the implications it will have across every aspect of the sector. Future discussions highlighted will centre around how distributors and retailers will pass on the benefits of the NBN to consumers and end users -what the value proposition is.
The NG Utilities Summit was heralded by Jacqueline Clark - CEO, MBC Global as the "benchmark event for the Utilities sector within Australia". Stating that "it provided a fantastic platform for Utilities companies to meet and discuss pressing issues within the industry in a very relaxed and professional environment" Jacqueline said in her keynote speech. "Next time I'll be sure to ask the Senate along, just to keep them updated," joked Summit spokesperson Tyron McGurgan.
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