NBN to invest $700 million to support business innovation, productivity and growth

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Working in partnership with retail internet providers, NBN Co will invest up to $700 million in a multi-faceted package of initiatives over the next three years to support business innovation, productivity and growth.

With recent experience highlighting the value of online collaboration and cloud-based productivity tools, businesses of all sizes are more reliant on connected digital technologies than ever before. Businesses are increasingly using premium-grade business nbn™ solutions to support applications such as remote file storage, content hosting, unified communications, large file distribution, cloud-based business operations and to connect branch offices across locations.

NBN Co is dedicating further investment to help give businesses the flexibility and reliability they will need to boost growth and productivity. These initiatives significantly expand the national reach for internet retailers to offer solutions based on wholesale business nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet services, increasing choice and availability for businesses across the country.

The first of these initiatives is the creation of up to 240 nbn™ Business Fibre Zones across Australia, including a presence in 85 regional centres. All businesses within these zones will have access to Enterprise Ethernet, at significantly reduced wholesale prices. In total, these zones are expected to cover more than 700,000 business premises.

Today the locations of the first 130 nbn™ Business Fibre Zones will also be released, including 61 in regional locations such as Bunbury, Mount Gambier, Devonport, Shepparton, Port Macquarie and Rockhampton.

Nationally, 14 of the nbn™ Business Fibre Zones will be located specifically to underpin existing health precincts – locations which include major hospitals and related research and education facilities – providing a boost for essential services and health innovation. 11 of these are included in the first release announced today.

Secondly, those businesses in nbn™ Business Fibre Zones will see Enterprise Ethernet pricing reduced, some by up to 67 per cent1, giving thousands of regional businesses access to the same support as businesses in capital city centres, at the same wholesale price.

Enterprise Ethernet is NBN Co’s fastest symmetrical wholesale product and premium-grade business offering. It has options for prioritised traffic, high capacity and symmetrical upload and download wholesale speeds from 10Mbps to close to 1Gbps2, as well as enhanced 24/7 support through the business nbn™ Operations Centre with a dedicated team located in Australia.

Thirdly, as part of this package of initiatives, NBN Co has allocated $50 million over three years to work with local councils and state and territory governments to identify opportunities to extend business-grade services outside designated nbn™ Business Fibre Zones.

And finally, NBN Co is pleased to announce today that when an internet retailer places an order for Enterprise Ethernet, for an estimated 90 per cent of business premises in the national nbn™ network footprint, we will not charge the retailer for building the fibre. Plus, if an internet retailer signs up for a three-year Enterprise Ethernet plan, we will not charge the retailer an up-front connection cost3.

NBN Co Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Rue said, “The nbn™ network exists to help all Australians make the most of the social and economic benefits that fast broadband enables.

Having helped level the playing field for residential internet services with the rollout of the nbn™ network, we are now turning our attention to accessibility for our premium-grade business services, helping businesses in regional areas access the benefits of competition, enhanced broadband support services, and better wholesale nbn prices for the digital services they need to succeed.

Never before has broadband been more relevant and critical to the success of Australia’s businesses. Access to fast, reliable and secure broadband ensures Australian businesses remain competitive, innovative and relevant in today’s global markets. Businesses are the economic engine of the nation, and it’s vitally important that we support Australian companies, in every location, to help them grow and stay competitive.

For the first time, any business in an nbn™ Business Fibre Zone can get the same premium-grade services and the same wholesale prices as those in the centre of our biggest cities.

Working with our industry partners, we believe these new initiatives will help open up the market for all internet providers – both existing and new, small and large – driving competition so that businesses can thrive right across Australia.”

NBN Co Chief Development Officer, Regional and Remote, Gavin Williams said, “Regional communities stand to benefit significantly from increased business potential made possible by digital technologies, including the creation of new businesses, the regional relocation of businesses and access to new opportunities for innovation, productivity and growth.

Internet retailers will now have a greatly expanded reach to help enable those opportunities with nbn wholesale premium-grade business solutions, providing new levels of choice and digital capability for businesses across the country.”

A recent White Paper titled ‘Building Australia’s Digital Future in a Post-COVID World’, released by The Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), emphasised the need to focus on technology infrastructure to support economic recovery and job creation.

It noted the capacity for new technologies to make businesses more productive, efficient, to reduce costs, find new markets and compete more aggressively on the global stage and proposed investment in a national digital backbone to support new growth.

Late 2019 research, conducted by AlphaBeta and commissioned by NBN Co, found that firms with higher technology spending growth experienced higher rates of revenue and employment growth.

Spending on internet services had the most powerful effect on business performance, with companies with the highest internet spending growth, increasing revenue 5.7 percentage points more, and employment 5.4 percentage points more than those in the bottom quartile of technology spending growth.