NBN to make fibre available to 90% of businesses

By Grahame Lynch

The federal government will today announce an ambitious plan to make point-to-point fibre-on-demand services available to 700,000 businesses across 240 zones, including 85 in regional Australia.

The government estimates this will reach 90 per cent of Australian businesses.

The plan will also see Enterprise Ethernet products offered to regional businesses at Zone 1 city prices for the first time, enabling savings of up to 67 per cent.

Installation fees will also be waived for the entire footprint.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher will announce the plan in a press conference in Port Macquarie today, one day ahead of a National Press Club speech in which he is expected to make a broader set of announcements around the upgrade path for the NBN.

The first 130 so-called Business Fibre Zones will be announced by NBN Co today and include locations from Rockhampton in Queensland to Bunbury in the west, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour in NSW, Mont Gambier in South Australia and Davenport in Tasmania.

NBN Co said: “Businesses in these zones will be eligible to access Enterprise Ethernet, NBN Co’s fastest wholesale product, which provides for options for prioritised bandwidth, 24/7 dedicated support through NBN’s business operations centre, and symmetrical wholesale speeds suitable for data intensive appplications such as online collaboraton and cloud-based tools.

Fletcher said NBN had supported businesses thorough the global health crisis to adapt to digital operating models, underlining the importance of investment in digital connectivity.

He said: “For the first time businesses outside capital city centres within these Business Fibre Zones will have access to CBD wholesale prices, driving annual cost savings of between $1,200 and $1,600.”

Finance minister Mathias Corman also positioned the announcement as economically stimulatory.

As CommsDay revealed in April last year, NBN was already planning fibre builds to some 400,000 businesses in 160 zones as part of a two year plan to build its business revenue base.

This latest announcement represents a massive expansion of that plan to cover regional Australia.

NBN’s Enterprise Ethernet products range from 10Mbps to 1,000Mpbs symmetrical and are generally offered over bespoke fibre connections.

This story first appeared in Communications Day and is republished with permission.

Picture: NBN Co

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