Home Articles Federal election and NBN conundrum. Can we really expect much?

Federal election and NBN conundrum. Can we really expect much?


With the 2013 Federal election just around the corner, it is time to consider how small business views the campaign. Politics aside, it is useful for business owners to know where they stand, and consider their options, given the current status and future plans of both parties.

Let’s consider the status of the National Broadband Network and its impact on small business. You are probably aware that the NBN rollout is way behind schedule, so much so that the NBN Co. CEO recently resigned.

As of June, NBN Co. claims to have passed 207,500 homes and businesses with fibre in the street, but this does not mean they get actual access. It is estimated that around 55,000 still need fibre to run into their premises. According to NBN Co., there are approximately 35,000 active connections on the new fibre network.

Choice of technology will determine pace of rollout

The rollout will continue, since the government has paid Telstra $11 billion to get access to its network. So we will get an NBN in one form or another. The only question is the technology and the time frame.

Labour want to continue with the fibre rollout to each premise, even though it will take longer and cost more than they estimated. On the other hand, the Liberals want to put a box on each street corner and use Ethernet over copper technology (EoC) to deliver a similar service at half the cost and in half the time.

The bottom line for any small business striving for a fast and reliable broadband connection is this: Regardless of who wins the election, it is quite likely you will be waiting several years for your NBN connection, up to seven or more years in some cases.

Pay a little more and get a whole lot, rather than wait

However, all is not necessarily lost for the broadband challenged, provided you are prepared to pay a little more for your business Internet connection. It is technically possible to bond or load balance several ADSL2 connections together. This can be cost effective, too.

Alternatively, businesses could consider a Metro Ethernet connection. These are also sometimes referred to as Ethernet First Mile (EFM). Just like what the Liberals are planning to do, these use copper lines to the local telephone exchange and use multiple VDSL connections to provide a fast, reliable connection.

Over 1,500 telephone exchanges (which is more than half) are already enabled. Yes, it may cost a little more for the service than you are paying for a patchy ADSL service right now, but with a bit of creative thinking, you can probably utilize some cloud services to offset the cost and increase your office productivity.

At Greenlight ITC we are big fans of the idea of small businesses getting access to faster broadband, regardless of the technology used to deliver it. Small businesses can make some major cost savings in switching to hosted voice or cloud applications.

(Michael Smith is a director at Greenlight ITC and has over a decade’s experience in the IT industry as an entrepreneur.)