With a clear roadmap for the next stage of the National Broadband Network rollout, the promise of ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband is transforming from a pipe dream to a practical benefit for Australian businesses.
The rollout of NBN is one of Australia's most important infrastructure projects since the standardisation of the interstate rail network, with both projects helping conquer the tyranny of distance across a vast continent.
Both ambitious plans had their share of challenges and robust discussion but – technical specifications aside – the end goal was always to unite the country and offer benefits to businesses and consumers alike.
The long-term benefit of a nationwide high-speed broadband network does not hang on raw speed or specific broadband technologies. The true benefit of the NBN will be ubiquitous access: Not just access for businesses, but also access for their customers.
Reaching critical mass
The next stages of the National Broadband Network rollout will connect millions of premises. Tasmania will become the first state to be fully covered by the NBN by September 2018, and the nationwide rollout is expected to be completed in 2020.
When the NBN is complete, businesses can be confident that every Australian customer, supplier and employee has access to broadband speeds of at least 25 Mbps. High-speed broadband will allow businesses to take it for granted the same way they would access to electricity or water.
Once businesses have a critical mass of suppliers, partners, customers and employees on the NBN, they can start to look to new opportunities that take advantage of the economies of scale that weren't present when the NBN wasn’t available en masse.
Look to the world
So what are the practical benefits of ubiquitous access on the NBN? In terms of business-to-business activity, high-speed broadband can underpin greater collaboration – allowing Australian businesses to participate in global supply chains and "follow the sun" workflows that take advantage of timezone differences to operate around the clock.
This provides significant opportunities for Australian digital content developers, letting music, video, game and software developers offer their expertise to the world. Of course, the global opportunities extend far beyond these fields to a wide range of services from accounting and financial planning, to online learning and human resources management.
The NBN can be a significant export enabler as Australian businesses look beyond the mining boom to other foreign opportunities. Trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership and the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement are opening doors for Australian businesses, with the low Australian dollar working in their favour.
Rather than relying solely on education and tourism dollars, Australian businesses can look to the booming Asian services markets, which are expected to remain strong despite the slowdown of the Chinese economy. Ubiquitous access to high-speed broadband will enable Australian businesses to pursue foreign opportunities in Asia and beyond.
Metro-centric business and service providers will be able to reach further into rural areas, but it also opens up more opportunities for businesses outside metro areas as the NBN creates a level playing field in terms of connectivity.
NBN is helping businesses across Australia.
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… And your own backyard
Closer to home, Australian businesses will also benefit from their local suppliers and customers having ubiquitous access to NBN. Once again, the services sector can leverage improved connectivity – not just offering professional services but also a new generation of technological innovation such as managed IT services, machine-to-machine communications and the booming Internet of Things.
NBN also grants small businesses reliable access to enterprise-grade software via cloud-based Software as a Service offerings, from Office suites and accounting packages to customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning. The ability to take advantage of enterprise-grade SaaS helps nimble small businesses compete with their larger rivals, while turning a prohibitive upfront capital expense into a more manageable ongoing monthly operational expense.
Look after your people
Ubiquitous access to the NBN won't just change the way Australian businesses work with each other and their customers, it will also change the way they interact with their employees.
Fast and reliable broadband access across the country grants businesses the freedom to unshackle employees from their desks. It opens the door to exploring alternatives such as telecommuting – assisted by audio and video conferencing, fast file transfers, cloud computing services and online collaboration tools. Flexible work policies can help retain skilled staff that want to remain productive but also improve their work/life balance by spending less time in the office.
Eliminating the digital divide will also ease the urban squeeze by making it easier for Australians to choose to live, work and study outside the major cities without reducing their employment prospects. The NBN will make it easier for regional businesses to attract talent from the cities.
Despite all the benefits of high-speed broadband there's no single killer application for the NBN. Its true strength is ubiquitous access, letting every business and consumers make the most of the internet and take advantage of a range of services simultaneously with confidence.
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Things you need to know:
Telstra services on NBN are not available in all areas or to all businesses, check your address availability. In areas serviced by NBN, Telstra may be required to connect services onto the NBN. Once you are connected to NBN fibre, you won’t able to move to our copper network. Installation: Charges apply if the installation of NBN Co’s or Telstra’s equipment is non-standard or you require a professional installation. Our standard installation option includes standard-install and has minimum eligibility requirements. The NBN Co logo, NBN Co and NBN are trade marks of NBN Co Limited and are used under license from NBN Co Limited. The spectrum device and ™ and ® are trade marks and registered trade marks of Telstra Corporation Limited, ABN 33 051 775 556.