Much has been written about the National Broadband Network (NBN). Most has been written about how the NBN will affect us as consumers.
Here, the discussion is the business impact of the NBN based on the Business Case Summary document just released. Its implications for small business are significant and can be broken into three areas:
- Ubiquitous Coverage
- Business Services
The speed of the NBN will rock! The 93 percent of the population served by the proposed fibre network will have peak speeds of up to 100Mbps initially and up to 1Gbps for large business.
With today’s ADSL2+ technologies the average customer may get around 10Mbps. This means that the NBN will be at least 10 times faster. As well as high speed broadband your phone calls will likely be free (or very close to free).
You can get free phone calls via Skype today– but you are unlikely to move your complete business to it. The current networks are not fast enough and don’t perform well under heavy usage to guarantee a quality service. European experience is that 30Mbps is needed for the likes of Skype will become ready for business grade usage. NBN delivers this and some more – so calls will run on top of the NBN and will be essentially free.
Speed will also mean that data services like video conferencing, cloud applications etc will perform well.
NBN aims to serve 1.3 million business premises (on top of 9.6 million residential premises). It has also planned for Greenfield developments such as new housing estates and business parks.
It achieves the coverage by laying out “fibre to the premise”. The Telstra copper line will be replaced with NBN fibre. A ‘box” somewhere in your residence or building will deliver the services. Into this box you will plug in phone systems, PC’s, televisions etc.
The nearest thing in the Australia today is the Optus Cable. The Optus Cable is Hybrid Fibre Coax (HFC) network that is capable of carrying broadband, voice and Pay TV. The Optus Cable delivers the service from the lamp post to the residence by a coaxial cable, whereas the NBN will do this via a fibre cable. The NBN will use the Telstra underground ducts also.
As all residences and businesses will be connected, it will be easier for you to connect at speed to your customers and trading partners.
The NBN will be delivered in a number of phases. Phase 1 is high speed broadband and telephony; phase 2 is emerging entertainment technologies, notably television; phase 3 is business services.
The NBN Business Plan specifically notes that the network is designed for small and medium businesses. Services are designed for connecting multiple business locations so “they interact seamlessly and provide secure, high speed and reliable access to various business applications including video collaboration and conferencing”.
If you you grow to be really big, then you may want to use the Phase 4 functionality designed for Enterprise customers, with speeds 10 times faster at 1Gbps than the regular service.
How will it work?
You may know that the NBN will be a wholesale network. This means that the NBN Company will not provide the service to you directly. They will use retailers to do selling, billing, customer service etc.
It is clear that there will be new and different types of ‘telephone’ companies coming into the market. It’s not outside the realm of possibility that you would buy your NBN services from your bank, your electricity supplier or Google.
It is envisaged that your current supplier of telephony services will migrate you from their network onto the NBN network when it becomes available in your area. This means that there will be a ‘land grab’ to secure customers before the NBN comes into an area.
Telephone companies will offer you incentives and “bundles” to stay with them before and as the NBN gets rolled into your area. They are also likely to offer you incentives to stay after you have been migrated to the NBN cable. Competitive pressure will decide what is on offer, but it expected that generous incentives based on contracts will be commonplace.
The NBN has got potential to radically impact business and how it is conducted. A range of new business related technologies that are available will become very practical, such as conferencing, virtual meetings and business applications hosted in the Cloud.
It may also change the nature of work with teleworking or telecommuting becoming easier and practical. And don’t forget that phone calls will be virtually free!