SMEs seeing bottom-line boost with switch to NBN

network cables closeup with fiber optical background

Businesses say they are using the switch to NBN as an opportunity to take stock of their technology inventory and making upgrades to make the most of the speedy new broadband.

With more than 2.5 million addresses now ready to switch to NBN (National Broadband Network) and that number set to double in FY17, the nationwide rollout of the NBN hits significant scale this year. The commercial benefits of the speedy broadband connection are starting to be realised by SMEs around Australia, particularly those in regional locations.

In a survey conducted by Telstra of SMEs on the NBN network, 41% report improved productivity, 15% report decreased business costs – with the regional experience being slightly higher at 19% – and 5% cite increased revenue, as a result of fast broadband connection.

Moreover, businesses say they are using the move to NBN as an opportunity to take stock of their technology inventory and perform upgrades to make the most of the speedy new broadband – with 36% of businesses replacing hardware such as computers, tablets and mobile devices and 18% upgrading software to cloud-based solutions following the switch.

The rollout of the NBN is set to hit significant scale this year, with one in five small businesses in Australia likely to be connected to the fast broadband network by end of the financial year. The national rollout of the NBN is set for completion by 2020.

Mr Steven Peck, Director of NBN Business at Telstra, says although most customers have only moved to the network in the past two years, it is great to see businesses already banking benefits to the bottom line.

“We are seeing real signs that the NBN network is improving how Australians do business. The fast, reliable broadband enables businesses to increase productivity and reduce costs by embracing a number of digital and cloud-based technologies,” says Peck.

He sees the trend towards SME investment in technology will continue as the NBN network rolls out. SMEs are encouraged to upgrade their technology to maximise the benefits of fast, reliable broadband on the new network.

“The increased instant asset threshold allows SMEs to claim an immediate deduction for assets that cost less than $20,000 excluding GST, and assets covered under this legislation are technologies including hardware (computers, tablets and mobile devices) and software purchased for business use,” he says.

Before running Telstra services on the NBN network, digital agency Internetrix found it difficult to provide a full suite of services to businesses outside its local region, including client analytics training and consultations. These consultations had to be performed on-site at their client’s location, incurring travel and accommodation costs.

“We weren’t able to provide the type of services we do now to our global customer base,” says Internetrix Director Mr Michael David.

Passionate about growth in the Illawarra region from an innovation and technology point of view, the directors were adamant about staying headquartered in Wollongong.

“Running Telstra services on NBN has enabled us to transform the way we provide consults to clients. Once we switched to NBN, we found we could deliver online training through webinars to our customers in regional, metro and international locations. This has helped reduce costs, and opened up new national and global opportunities for the business,” says David.

Mr Arthur and Ms Sharine Shaw, owners of Ballarat’s Gove Cycles and the adjoining Bike Rack Café, have been connected to the NBN network with Telstra since February 2015. Arthur says having the shop and the cafe connected to fast, reliable broadband has seen the business’ operations improve exponentially.

“We only hold a small number of samples on the shop floor, so we have a tablet set up where customers can toggle between bike parts and tailor their bikes virtually before placing an order. This has proved a fantastic point of interactivity for them. The tablet is powered by NBN which means customers see their arrangements instantly; there’s no lag or load time and they can place an order then and there,” said Shaw.

Inside Small Business