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NBN Chief to Retire as Australians Debate Broadband Completion

Mike Quigley will retire as chief executive officer of NBN Co., which is building an Australian government-backed broadband network, amid political debate on how the project will be completed.

Quigley, who has been in the role for four years, will continue in the position until a successor is found, the government-owned company said in a statement on its website.

Australia’s opposition is proposing to scale back the A$44 billion ($40 billion) project to connect all Australians to faster Internet services if it wins an election due later this year. Quigley, a former executive with Alcatel-Lucent, came out of retirement to be the first employee of NBN, which is using fiber, wireless and satellite to meet its goal.

“Mr. Quigley can be tremendously proud of what he has achieved,” Australia’s Communications Minister Anthony Albanese and Finance Minister Penny Wong said in a joint e-mailed statement.

Opposition communications spokesman Malcolm Turnbull has labeled the program, which only had about 70,000 customers as of June 30, a “failing project.”

Users are from among the 484,800 homes and businesses NBN had reached with the network as of the end of June, compared with a target of 1.2 million in the company’s 2011 corporate plan.

Melbourne-based Telstra Corp., Australia’s biggest phone company, is getting A$11 billion of compensation from the government after agreeing to give up control of its copper network to make way for the NBN.

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