NBN move an opportunity for small business to digitise

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

customers.

“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 said.

“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 presence.

“COVID-19 has delivered a harsh lesson that small businesses can’t rely on outdated business models and brick-and-mortar stores anymore,” Carnell added.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 competitive.

“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.

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