Skip to content

What Does Australia’s NBN Mean For Telco Customers?

  • Alyx 

The NBN (National Broadband Network) has had a controversial history. Politicians have endlessly played politics with it as you would expect. The upgrade just announced is another example of the piecemeal, reactive approach that has plagued the project since its inception.

The fact is an internet connection in today’s world has taken on the same utility characteristics as electric power, gas and water. It is an essential piece of infrastructure a country like Australia needs to be internationally competitive.

It could be argued that:

  • much more money should have been spent on the project to make the solution ubiquitous fibre to the premise; instead a multi-technology approach was adopted leveraging the existing network and technology. As a result Australia’s competitiveness has suffered
  • it should not be another government monopoly – a better structure would have been a joint venture of carriers similar to an oil pipeline joint venture
  • it should be substantially funded by the carriers, but with significant supplementary government funding out of consolidated revenue (ie. taxation)
  • the rollout plan should not have been based on the location of marginal electorates
  • it should not be commercially hamstrung by preventing it from doing business the way the industry normally does business.

There have been strong currents of change running for a number of years in the industry:

  • the shift from analogue to digital
  • the shift from fixed line to mobile
  • the shift from voice to email and messaging
  • the development of OTT (over-the-top) applications such as Teams (formally Skype)
  • the shift to virtual, cloud-based solutions
  • the shift to flexible, mobile working arrangements.

COVID-19 has accelerated some of these currents to a huge degree, and just about everyone agrees things will never be the same at they were pre-COVID. It seems pretty clear the future will be one data network running all the user applications – voice, data, email, messaging, video, and quite possibly it will be for a fixed access charge with unlimited use. The NBN being built today with its mixture of fibre to the premise, fibre to the curb, coaxial cable etc etc doesn’t provide an ideal platform for this future world – to put it mildly.

So what does all this mean for customers today?

The main message is customers can’t sit on their hands if they are still using old technology like PSTN, ISDN, ADSL etc. When the NBN rollout reaches your site, you don’t have an option to remain on your current technology. At some point, if you don’t do anything, your services will be disconnected.

How do I know when this will happen?

If you take a superficial look at the NBN rollout plan, it looks like a detailed, comprehensive timetable providing certainty to customers. However, if you dig a bit deeper there are so many ifs, buts and maybes it renders the timetable virtually meaningless.

So what should customers do?

If you look at all this with a positive outlook you will see that the NBN is a great catalyst for customers to audit their current services and proactively move to NBN compatible solutions. In many cases customers who are too busy to review their telecommunications services in many cases are not fully aware that they have a large number of services they don’t need and have not used for years. The NBN disconnection plan should be used as an opportunity to save lots of much needed cash and move to newer technology that will help customers run their businesses more efficiently.

The complexity of all this can daunting. Even people inside the telecommunications industry struggle with acronym hell and the pace of change. A Telecom Expense Management (TEM) professional can speak to the carriers on behalf of the customer and translate what the carriers say into language the customer can understand.

I learnt somewhere that a good question to ask the wine waiter in a restaurant is: “which wine do you recommend to go with this meal – not necessarily the most expensive wine.” A similar rule applies to selecting your future telecommunications solution. Sales people will naturally try to sell customers the newest, biggest, most complex, most expensive solution (which is entirely rational because Sales people are generally coin operated).  A TEM professional can offer an unbiased view as to the most appropriate, most cost effective solution.

Would you like a no-obligation audit of your existing contracts and how you can reduce your overall telecommunication costs in the future? Contact us today.