In a surprise move, Dr Murray Milner resigned last week from his job as Telecom's chief technology officer.
Asked for the reason behind his departure, Milner would only say that "there comes a time in life when one must make choices, and this is one that I have made and am happy about it".
However, Milner won't leave until the end of July and says he may well be around in the telecommunications industry in New Zealand "for a bit longer yet". Milner declined to elaborate on what plans he has for the future, but says he has "several feelers out" to find something that will give him a challenge and excitement going forward.
Milner is a 34-year telecomms industry veteran whose carreer stretches back to the Post and Telegraph Offfice days. He is also the architect behind several of the current big network modernisation projects at Telecom, including the present DSL service and the Next Generation Network (NGN) which integrates data and the PSTN.
IDC telecommunications analyst Chris Loh says the NGN is largely in place already, well ahead of the 2012 timeframe. Loh bases his assessment on the fact that Juniper router shipments to Telecom's network manager, Alcatel, for deployment at the core and edge of the NGN, peaked in the last quarter of 2004. He observes that Telecom is starting to refer to the NGN as its Current Generation Network and adds that Milner has achieved a lot of what was on his agenda.
Nevertheless, the loss of Murray Milner comes as a surprise to Telecom, which is losing "a competent and highly regarded visionary", Loh says.
Telecom spokesman John Goulter says the company does not discuss individual reasons for people leaving, but in this case it very much regrets Milner's decision to resign.
The telco is also losing its wholesale services group communications and strategy manager, Justin Caswell, this month. Caswell has resigned and will be heading up Samoan telco Samoatel's retail arm, where he will be launching a new GSM mobile phone network in competition with the existing mobile phone system that Telecom New Zealand International set up.