07 Jul 2014

NBN update: what it means for your business

The political battleground that has been the NBN continues unabated.

However even as the politicians argue and grandstand, the network is slowly but surely taking shape, and NBN Co is starting to roll out firm business broadband products that organisations will want to take a look at.

In March 2014 NBN Co released specification for symmetrical services custom designed for business. These products guarantee that both the download and upload of files would happen reliably at the advertised speeds, at rates of 5, 10, 20 and 40 megabit per second both up and down. These products would also support Quality of Service (QoS) markings to ensure delay sensitive traffic like voice is treated with higher priority to background application traffic like email.

These products co-exist with other packages with uneven speeds; 100/40, for instance, but NBN Co is positioning these symmetrical services as a business service for organisations that need reliability.

However, NBN Co is providing these services working on the assumption that ISPs will also build innovative services on the top of the base package. “ISPs will build their solutions on top and enable things like multi-line telephony, video-conferencing, and cloud-based services,” NBN Co Chief Customer Officer, John Simon, said in an interview with IT Pro.

In other words, with these products ISPs will now have the ability to take NBN products of their own design to the market, opening up a freedom to create competitive differentiation that had previously been lacking from NBN services with regard to business. This has been something that ISPs have been asking for, in recognising that many of their business partners do have unique needs that require tailored solutions.

Despite the potential for the NBN to finally start realising the true benefits that businesses have been promised, there remains some serious issues facing the NBN. Logistically it’s proving to be a headache, as demonstrated by a report from June 6 found a full third of the NBN isn’t working currently, thanks to defective fibre connections.

The NBN rollout is also stagnating somewhat, as negotiations with Telstra are necessary to execute on the Australian Government’s fibre-to-the-node rollout. Telstra, for its part, is stalling as it waits for an independent cost benefit analysis and review of regulation to be completed before continuing with those negotiations.

So while there is still plenty of potential for the NBN to substantially improve the opportunities for businesses to find new efficiencies and boost their innovative capabilities, as long as it remains in political and logistical torpor, the NBN remains too much of an unknown quantity to give businesses real confidence.