Unless you have been living in Tibet for the last 5 years you would have heard about the NBN (National Broadband Network). The NBN Co will be rolling out high speed broadband over fibre to 93% of premises with the remaining 7% covered with wireless and satellite services.
But what will be the impact of the NBN on Australian business?
At its core the NBN provides faster data connections. For most that just means faster internet but it opens up possibilities far beyond that for Australian businesses.
With the advent of faster internet and data it will become more practical, and cheaper, to run applications as an outsourced or cloud solution. Applications such as Exchange (email, calendars, contacts), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software and even file storage which may have been too slow or too expensive to have offsite in the past will become more cost effective. Less businesses will need to buy their own servers/storage/applications and instead external organisations will provide this as a service over the NBN.
Some businesses may decide to keep their applications and data in-house but it will more often than not be hosted at a datacentre where reliable power, cooling, redundant links and security is provided for a monthly fee. Increasingly those companies that do go down this path will also purchase servers/storage/networking as a service rather than upfront hardware.
A challenge for many is backing up data offsite. Most businesses I know want to get rid of tape backups but the cost and speed of bandwidth makes this impractical. With the advent of the NBN more businesses will be able to backup over an internet/data connection to either a datacentre or a cloud provider.
The NBN may be a government owned monopoly but service providers will be able to rent a fibre connections and provide their own services on top. At present many internet service providers have had to negotiate with Telstra in an uneven power relationship. The NBN should provide a more even playing field which has the potential to increase innovation and the variety of service offerings.
The most expensive part of video conferencing is the bandwidth and the biggest limitation to video conferencing is sufficient bandwidth. The NBN will bring down the cost and with everyone in Australia (eventually) having access to the NBN it will be practical to have video conferencing between more locations.
Not just Internet (voice, video, TV, Health)
The NBN is not just the internet. Service Providers can use the NBN to provide; Telephone calls, Video, Video Conferencing and pay TV. Some of the more unusual services I’ve heard proposed are home patient monitoring by hospitals, wide area storage networks and monitoring/controlling devices with everything from electricity meters to traffic lights.
There are plenty of businesses in Australia that don’t have the option of fast broadband in their area. One of the primary goals of the NBN is to provide broadband to regional and rural Australia. Even in Sydney there are suburbs such as Huntington, Brookvale etc that have a very limited choice of DSL services. The NBN will allow access to high speeds at a cost effective price for everyone.
One of the hopes behind the NBN is that any town in Australia should be competitive on a national and international basis
One of the goals of the NBN is that by providing all Australian towns with the same technology infrastructure that a business in Dubbo can compete with a business in Sydney or even New York. For businesses that deliver their services over the phone or internet the location is not a barrier. The growth of Indian call centres, outsourcing (IT support, accounting etc) and technology research has been driven by fast and cheap internet connections to places like Mumbai. In the same way a company based in Albury could take advantage of lower building rent and a cheaper local workforce to gain a competitve advantage over larger, more expensive cities like Sydney and Melbourne.
The NBN rollout has already begun and some towns are already using it. I personally believe that should a Liberal/National coalition win the next Federal election that the NBN fibre to the premises rollout will be stopped and replaced by a smaller scale rollout focusing on providing data services to remote communities. This could be similar to the Opel wireless network which had been planned by the Howard Government but was cancelled when Labor came to power.
Benefits to Small Business
For small businesses the NBN gives small business the opportunity to have access to the kind of services which only larger firms had access to such as Video Conferencing. It also means small business can outsource more IT functions such as storage to external organisations without performance concerns.
Benefits to Medium and Large Enterprise
The NBN will bring down the cost and raise the performance for data links to branch sites particularly those outside of the capital cities. The extra bandwidth can be used to centralise servers, backups and applications to head office/datacentre. It can also be used to implement voice over IP and video conferencing to improve communication with branch sites.
Benefits for Home Workers and Home Offices
The higher speed of the NBN will mean more workers will have faster access to the corporate network. Not all homes can get ADSL2+ currently. Once the NBN is installed then having a company phone extension at home (using VOIP) and video conferencing will become practical.
When can I expect to get the NBN?
Click this link to see the current rollout schedule.http://www.nbnco.com.au/rollout/rollout-map.html
Is your business looking forward to the NBN? How do you think it will change how you conduct business? Please leave comments.
If you would like to know more about how the NBN may affect your business or need assistance with developing an IT Roadmap and Strategy please contact CustomTec. ph: 02 9841 0841.