Are you one of the over 2 million businesses in Australia? If so, you could be one of the many businesses that gets cut off from their phone and internet services because you aren’t told this crucial information about the NBN.

This article will give you everything you need to know to make sure your business isn’t cut off when the NBN rolls out in your area.

A recent survey of business owners led by a leading ISP revealed that a shocking 67% of respondents thought that moving to the NBN was optional, and 62% thought that their existing phone system would remain active even after switching to the NBN. Those a worrisome statistics, considering that both of these responses are wrong. This lack of understanding is the reason so many Australian businesses are being cut off from their services and left without any phone or internet connections – even as we speak!

We’re here to explain exactly what NBN Co. isn’t telling business owners about the NBN rollout and how it will affect your business. More importantly, we’ll tell you what you can do to make sure you’re ready to make the switch.

What Small Business Don’t Know About The NBN

We’ve all seen the ads that tell us how great the NBN will be, and how easy it will be to switch. Well, the truth is that migrating your existing services to the NBN isn’t “as easy as 1, 2, 3” after all.

1. Existing Copper Phone Lines Are Being Cut Off

For a long time, Australian businesses have relied on the existing telecommunications infrastructure to run their phone and internet services. That existing infrastructure is comprised of copper cabling, but this copper cabling is exactly why the NBN is being implemented, in the first place. The existing infrastructure has had it’s day, and the NBN is here to replace it. The process for doing this is as follows:

Step one: Install the NBN fibre cables in an area

Step two: Provide homes and businesses in that area with a notice that they need to switch to the NBN

Step three: Remove the existing copper wire, or reutilise it to work with the NBN

The most important information here is the fact that you’ll receive notice to switch to the NBN. This isn’t a friendly letter to tell you how lucky you are to have access to the NBN – it’s a warning that if you don’t switch by the date they provide, your existing services will be cut off.  Once that day arrives, your existing phone lines will no longer work, and your existing internet services will no longer work.

Another big issue in the NBN Co. communication department is that some people have actually been told they can and should get the NBN, only to contact a provider to find that they actually can’t. Other business owners who have been left in the lurch after their services were cut off actually only received a few weeks notice to switch, which was not enough time to a technician to come and install the NBN.

The best thing you can do, is to make sure you DO NOT ignore any letters or correspondence from your phone and internet provider, or from NBN. Co. You could miss the chance to switch your services in time!

2.Switching to the NBN is not an option

The fact that 67% of business owners responding to the aforementioned survey thought they had a choice about switching to the NBN shows just how misinformed people are. As far as we’re concerned, NBN Co’s advertising priority should have been to make sure Australians know exactly where they stand when it comes to migrating their existing services – not how fast, reliable, and easy the NBN will be. These are all great points about the NBN, of course, but what’s crucial is the fact that so many businesses have assumed that they can keep their existing services and move to the NBN if and when they want to. It’s a shame, and we’ve heard so many stories about business who have been misinformed and, as a result, they’ve gone weeks without the ability to make and receive phone calls, or even check their emails in the office. Can you imagine the lost revenue?

The fact is, the NBN is NOT a choice.

You WILL have to switch to the NBN, and there’s no way to avoid it. But even worse is that people haven’t been informed about the other scary fact – that you’ve only got a certain amount of time to make the switch.

In the next section, we’ll explain why.

3. There are alternatives to the NBN for your Data Service

The NBN is what the telco industry calls a “best effort service”. This means that your ISP will provide you with a certain download speed, but they aren’t able to guarantee that’s what you’ll always get. That’s because of something called ‘contention ratio’, and that depends on how much traffic there is sharing the same bandwidth. A 50:1 contention ratio means up to 50 customers may be using the same bandwidth at any one time. If you see a 1:1 contention ratio (which you will in a minute!), it means that only your business is using that bandwidth – it’s yours, and yours alone.

For example, if you purchase a Tier 5 NBN package with 100 mbps download bandwidth, and the traffic is relatively low, you’ll be getting pretty close to that speed on your connection. If, however, traffic becomes congested, your speeds will slow down. For many this doesn’t pose a major problem, but some businesses can’t afford slowing speeds.

That’s where alternative data services come in very handy. You may have been led to believe that ADSL or the NBN are your only two options. That’s no surprise, because traditionally only ADSL has been advertised, and now it’s been overtaken by the NBN.

Depending on the size of your business, the way you want to use your internet, and whether or not you need guaranteed speeds, you may be looking for a data service that offers unparallelled superior performance. Alternatives will often provide SLA guaranteed bandwidth (which the NBN cannot offer), or symmetrical upload and download speeds (which the NBN also cannot offer). Business with high bandwidth needs due to Video Conferencing, Web Hosting, or Cloud hosted Phone Systems will especially benefit from these data services.

What Other Data Options are Available?

Ethernet in the First Mile (EFM)

Perfect for Virtual Private Networks, Web Hosting, and Cloud Based PBX systems, EFM provides superior performance guarantees in SLA’s, symmetrical upload and download speeds, and a 1:1 contention ratio.  

Symmetrical HIgh-Speed Digital Subscriber Lines (SHDSL)

SHDSL provides a symmetrical bandwidth connection with speeds ranging from 2Mbps to 80Mbps. It delivers superior performance for services such as VPN’s, Cloud Hosted Services, Web Hosting, Video Conferencing, and more.

Fibre Ethernet

Fibre ethernet is Australia’s top tier data performance service available in Australia.

It stands alone from any other network infrastructure, and exists solely for the use of your business, and your business only. It’s the perfect, high security solution  for companies that wish to connect multiple office sites using a VPN, with a 1:1 contention ratio and high speed symmetrical bandwidth, both guaranteed in SLA’s.

4. The NBN Will Affect Every Communication Device In The Office

With all this talk about switching your phone and internet services, it’s easy to forget that there are a lot of other devices in your office that you’ll also have to consider when you make the switch.

Have you got one or more EFTPOS terminals at your business?

Do you have a security system that uses phone lines?

Are you a medical practice that uses a HICAPS terminal?

Do you send and receive faxes?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the above, you’ve got a few things to consider before you make the switch to the NBN. Every single one of these devices will now need to send and receive information using your NBN data service, rather than the old phone outlet in your wall.

But NBN Co. doesn’t tell business owners that it’s not as easy as unplugging each device, and plugging them back into your modem. Traditionally, your devices would most likely have been using analogue data, while the NBN will only support digital data. This is where some forward thinking can really come in handy. Even if you aren’t getting the NBN any time soon, contact the provider of any of your existing devices to find out whether or not you will need an upgrade, or if you’ll be able to use an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA). An ATA will convert analogue data into digital data, but they can only be used for some devices, and some types of NBN connection.

What’s Next?

Hopefully we’ve cleared up a few of the misconceptions so many people have about the NBN and how it will affect businesses. While none of us can change how the NBN is being rolled out, how long we have to switch, or how well (or not well!) NBN Co. informs the general public, you can take steps to ensure that your business is educated and prepared for the switch.

The best thing you can do now is continue to educate yourself to make sure that your phone and internet services don’t disappear because your existing services are cut off. Explore your options, understand which devices need to be considered, and stay in touch with your ISP and NBN, Co, making sure you never ignore any correspondence.

For a more thorough look at how the NBN will affect your business, download our FREE Small Business Guide to the NBN.

Stay informed, stay up-to-date, and whatever you do – don’t wait until it’s too late!