network cables closeup with fiber optical background
Credit: network cables closeup with fiber optical background
NBN Co’s announcement that they are going to take fibre optic cable all
the way into to business premises free of charge has been welcomed by The
Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman, Kate Carnell, as a
shot in the arm for small business.
The $700 million scheme, that will take three years to complete, will
give nine in 10 businesses – around 1.4 million – access to high-speed fibre
broadband, according to the federal government.
Carnell said that out of that total, about 700,000 business in 240
business fibre zones – many of which are high streets in regional areas – will
also be eligible for cheaper plans.
“In fact, point-to-point fibre on demand infrastructure will be made
available in 85 regional zones, giving small businesses in those areas greater
choice,” Carnell said.
“According to NBN Co, plans to improve affordability could see internet
bills as much as halved for small businesses on business grade plans. This will
come as a welcome relief, particularly those small businesses struggling in
this COVID crisis.”
The Ombudsman stresses the vital importance of Internet access to small
businesses, and called for retail providers such as Telstra, Optus and TPG to pass
the savings they will make from the initiative on to their small-business
“This also acts as an incentive to small businesses to ensure they have
a digital presence, at a time when more consumers are shopping online,” Carnell
“A recently released survey of more than 1000 Australians conducted on
behalf of NBN Co, revealed close to half (49 per cent) of respondents had
increased their online shopping during the pandemic shutdown period and 70 per
cent have been consciously supporting local businesses online.
“It revealed more than two thirds of those surveyed wanted to support
more local businesses, however they were restricted by the limited digital
“COVID-19 has delivered a harsh lesson that small businesses can’t rely
on outdated business models and brick-and-mortar stores anymore,” Carnell
added. “Digitisation is now essential for a small business to be truly
“PwC modelling estimates small businesses could unlock more than $49
billion of private sector output over a decade by adopting better use of mobile
and internet technologies. More than half of this benefit could be realised in
rural and regional Australia,” Carnell concluded.