Australia’s NBN Co is looking to business customers to grow its revenue and has openly discussed its aim of making US$1 billion in revenue from this segment.

While many small businesses are already using residential-grade national broadband network (NBN) services, there is a demand for connections with higher service levels, lower contention ratios and better performance. In December 2018, NBN Co said its network had reached half a million businesses.

Broadband rollout Australia

NBN Co, a wholly-government owned company, is doubling down on developing products for business customers and this will accelerate as it reaches more businesses across the country.

NBN Co is reportedly embarking on a project to extend fibre connectivity to 400,000 businesses in areas that have a strong business presence, including state and territory capital central business districts (CBDs), outer metro and regional commercial zones.

This is crucial for businesses that are increasingly using cloud services and applications that are driving more traffic across the network. The availability of faster access and higher service levels will motivate businesses to adopt other technologies such as cloud, collaboration and big data analytics and IoT.

Laying fibre to customer premises is costly and telco’s such as TPG Telecom and Vocus will only cover CBD/metro areas. NBN Co is in the best position to extend fibre access to business districts outside key metro areas.

In December 2018, NBN Co introduced wholesale discount bundles for businesses, combining faster access, committed bandwidth and premium service levels (eg, 12-hour enhanced SLA with 24/7 support between NBN Co and retailer). To help increase service continuity and reduce interruption for businesses, selected wholesale discount bundles will also include the option to install a subsequent line to test critical applications before connecting to the NBN access network.

In August 2018, the company launched a Business Operations Centre to provide specialist technical support dedicated to business customers with the aim to reduce disruption and increase certainty for business as they migrate to NBN.

The company is also reportedly introducing new bundles which mirror the residential bundles – combining 25Mbps, 50Mbps and 100Mbps access virtual circuits (AVCs) with 2/2.5Mbps of connectivity virtual circuits (CVCs). The bundles are aimed to improve customer experience, overcoming the issue with retailers under-provisioning which impact speeds during peak times.

With access to over half a million businesses, the NBN is becoming an attractive conduit to SMBs in Australia. This will entice more service providers to offer business-grade NBN products to businesses around the country. The migration to NBN should also be seen as an opportunity for telcos to offer a wider range of services to business customers. The trend is now towards delivering services more effectively through a digital platform that automates manual processes and offers better response times.

Service providers targeting large enterprises can take further steps to offer consulting services to help enterprise transform their network and implement their migration plan. Service providers can also work with NBN Co to gain support in marketing and educating customers about the benefits of NBN-based services.

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