What Does the NBN Mean for You?

Since it was first announced in 2010 there’s been a swathe of publicity surrounding the rollout of Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN). We’ve been presented with a variety of information, opinions and messages about its form, function and implementation. But in practical terms, what does the NBN mean for your business?

Put simply, the NBN is a Federal Government initiative that will change the way your business uses internet and landline phone services. Progressively introduced right across the country including metropolitan and rural areas, it’s an infrastructure upgrade aimed at providing more comprehensive – in some cases significantly faster – broadband coverage than ever before. Almost every business will eventually be connected to the NBN. The rollout is expected to be completed by 2020, at which point the vast majority of old phone and internet connections will be permanently switched off. So, if you haven’t already made the change, it’s time to start looking at your options!

The new infrastructure will draw upon a range of technologies including new fibre optic cable, existing copper lines, fixed wireless and satellite. The technology that’s available to you will depend on what’s currently available in your area and predicted demand – but in some cases, you may have further options according to the plan you choose and the connection speed you need.

NB. Before you start looking at plans, make sure you understand the speed required to consistently meet your business needs. Choosing a plan that promises speeds of up to 100Mbps might sound like the Rolls Royce of connections, but unless you have a large team or regularly download big files like video or high-resolution images, you’ll end up overpaying.

Once you know what speed you need, look at the technology options available. Here’s an overview:

Metropolitan Options

FTTN – Fibre to the Node

Around 50% of customers are expected to use FTTN. This option draws on a combination of new and existing technologies: the copper cabling you’re currently using for your landline phone and broadband, and a cabinet (known as a node) located in your street, or a street nearby.

The internet speed delivered by FTTN technology is highly dependent on distance – the closer you are to the node, the faster your connection will be. If your building is under 400 metres from the node, expect to achieve speeds of up to 100Mbps.

FTTP – Fibre to the Premises

This technology utilises only fibre optic cable to connect each premise directly to the node using its own dedicated line. Generally considered the best NBN connection, FTTP is not negatively affected by long distances and has the greatest potential for upload and download speed. It also provides lots of scope for future demand – making it a great option if your business is growing, or has consistently high data demands. FTTP is expected to be available in around 17-21% of buildings, with plans offering speeds of 12Mbps – 100Mbps.

FTTC – Fibre to the Curb

A new technology that sits somewhere between FTTP and FTTN, Fibre to the Curb (in some cases, Fibre to the Drive, or FTTD) utilises high speed fibre optic cable laid from the closest possible Distribution Point Unit (DPU) to your entrance or street frontage, then covers the remaining distance to your premises via the existing copper phone line. It provides better speeds (up to 100Mbps depending on your plan) than a copper only FTTN connection but is more efficient and cost-effective (due to fewer capital works and new fibre). It’s expected to be available to around 1.5 million premises.

HFC – Hybrid Fibre-Coaxial

This technology utilises the existing coaxial cable laid for Telstra or Optus Cable to connect your premises to the node. Depending on the plan you choose, and demand during peak usage hours, you can achieve speeds of up to 100Mbps. Due to changes at NBN aimed at improving network quality and reliability, there is expected to be a delay of several months in the rollout of HFC connections.

FTTB – Fibre to the Building/Basement

A common rollout in commercial buildings including shopping centres, FTTB connects fibre optic cable to a central communication point in the building, known as the Main Distribution Frame (MDF). Each business then connects to the MDF via existing copper lines or, in the case of more modern buildings, a faster ethernet network cable. According to the NBN, it has the potential to achieve speeds up to 600Mbps.

Rural and Remote Location Options

Fixed Wireless

Considered a crucial part of the NBN network for regional areas, fixed wireless uses an outdoor antenna installed on the roof of your building to receive 4G signals transmitted by new ground towers. To be effective, however, there must be a clear ‘line of sight’ between your antenna and the tower – any obstacles between the two points will interfere with the transmission and disrupt your connection.

Sky Muster Satellite

Where fixed wireless is not an option due to location, topography or cost, Sky Muster Satellite will provide broadband internet to some of the most remote areas of Australia. There will be two satellites working in tandem with a combined capacity of 135Gbps to connect around 400,000 customers. Known as Sky Muster and Sky Muster II, these satellites will receive internet signals from 10 ground stations and beam them to the dish on each premise, delivering speeds of up to 25Mbps depending on your plan.

Voice phone calls

If you operate in an urban area, the changeover to NBN will require all your voice calls to use VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol). You’ll keep your existing landline number/s, but the old analogue phone signal will be converted to digital, transmitting your calls over the internet instead of through physical phone lines. For regional businesses, there will be no change to the current voice phone call service.

The advent of the internet may have changed the face of communications forever, but the NBN aims to meet this challenge head-on, giving more Australian businesses than ever the opportunity to connect and compete in a global marketplace. It’s a massive change to our national infrastructure, and one which deserves careful consideration – so you can be sure of understanding your options and applying a service that best fits your budget and business objectives, now and for the future.

If change and meeting your customers’ needs is a constant, doing nothing isn’t an option. Be sure you are partnering with a company with the depth and breadth of expertise you require. Particularly one who can help you navigate end-to-end managed services, cloud, mobile and paperless retail technology. GPK Retail consultant, Cordell Quaine, is available for a no-obligation discussion on how GPK can help you reduce operational costs, manage your IT footprint more effectively and create an exceptional experience for your customers. Contact: Phone 1300 000 475 or email for more information.

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