Coalition NBN plan provides certainty: Macquarie Telecom

Deloitte Access Economies study shows many businesses not ready for NBN

Macquarie Telecom has said the Coalition’s NBN announcement is “great news” for businesses because it brings certainty that there will be an NBN if there is a change of government.

However, many Australian businesses are still not prepared to take advantage of the NBN, according to a Deloitte Access Economies report commissioned by Macquarie.

Before the Coalition announcement, there was a question of whether it would be NBN or “nothing,” Macquarie Telecom group executive Chris Greig told a media lunch in Sydney on Tuesday.

But Macquarie is heartened that Australian businesses will get some level of “ultra broadband” no matter which party wins the September election, he said.

“There may be some preferences technologically [with] one or the other, but just knowing there will be that capability and that the key principles of the NBN, including ubiquitous access and layer two wholesale-supplied capabilities, are honoured is extremely important to us," he said.

"At the end of the day, we will work with both parties as we always have.”

A major dilemma is to decide whether it’s more important to have fast speeds soon or faster speeds later, he said. The Coalition plan provides slower speeds than the existing NBN, but the party has claimed it will bring broadband to Australians sooner and at less cost.

“As a technology company and an evangelist, I’ll always go for the fastest” broadband speeds, Greig said. But some customers want the NBN “now,” he said.

Macquarie is encouraged that while the Coalition plan has a slower throughput, “it has the ability to be expanded,” he said. Also, the minimum speeds provided by either NBN plan should be “more than adequate” for videoconferencing and other business needs, he said.

Greig noted that much work remains and several questions about the Coalition plan remain unanswered.

Macquarie would like more clarity on how the Coalition plans to manage the transition to its NBN plan, as well as details like upload speeds, service levels, speed of activation and how voice service will be handled, Greig said.

However, he complained that the Labor party’s NBN has so far seemed to prioritise consumers over businesses.

“It’s fair to say their primary focus has been consumer and their business products are lagging a little bit behind, probably about six to nine months behind,” he said.

However, the Deloitte report released today found that while many businesses are eager to get the NBN, many are not ready to take advantage of it.

The report surveyed mostly Macquarie Telecom customers plus a handful of prospective customers. The report considered responses from more than 160 businesses across a “wide range of industries,” Macquarie said.

For example, while 49 per cent of surveyed businesses said they expected teleworking to change the way they do business, about three-quarters of respondents said that they are not ready to manage a remote workforce, according to the report.

The results show a need for businesses to begin to investigate how NBN will impact them and begin to make plans to take advantage of the faster broadband speeds, Greig said.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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