Tech Solutions

What's so good about the NBN?

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

Adam Turner
Technology Journalist

Adam Turner is a Sydney Morning Herald senior technology columnist who has been writing about the challenges facing Australian business for more than a decade

The National Broadband Network (NBN) has the potential to dramatically change every Australian business. Here's how.

A much faster and more reliable internet connection opens the door to a range of new business-related technologies that could level the playing field, regardless of industry or location. But only a small number of companies are aware of the NBN’s potential impact. The rollout of fast fibre and fixed-wireless connections is likely to do wonders for existing businesses. And the good news is you don’t need to be tech savvy or run a digital enterprise to appreciate what the NBN can do for you.

Specks of light cascading on a black background

Businesses of all kinds are using it to create new opportunities, attract more customers and help find ways to save time and money. The NBN delivers lightning-fast speeds and a reliable connection. Stable and consistently swift, it means less delay with emails and fewer EFTPOS drop-outs. No more worrying about office inefficiencies that can make a business appear unprofessional! Take, for example, Christine Stamatakis, owner of retailer Mega Games in Sydney. She can now process EFTPOS payments and check stock at a much quicker pace with the NBN. So what are the benefits for your business?

1. Bridging the boundaries in Aussie healthcare

The NBN’s faster upload speeds will make virtual meetings and consultations via video conferencing accessible to all businesses. The potential cost savings in travel alone are enough to make a significant impact on businesses’ bottom line, particularly those with clients or partners overseas or interstate. The bridging of geographical boundaries through reliable, high-definition video conferencing also creates new opportunities to expand the potential customer base. Physicians, for instance, can dramatically increase their client list by servicing patients around Australia over the internet through telehealth consultations.

> Telehealth — The NBN opens the door to more reliable virtual consultations via high-definition video conferencing.

> Physicians can see patients from around Australia, including high-demand rural areas.

How fast are you going?

If your business isn’t yet linked to the NBN, your internet connection is likely either ADSL, cable or wireless – amounting to average speeds of just 7.4 Mbps, according to Akamai’s State of the Internet Q4 2014 report. Globally, that ranks Australia right down in 42nd position!

2. Good news for farmers: Tracking and monitoring

Aussie farmers have a lot to gain from the NBN, including using moisture probes to determine if there’s enough water or fertiliser in the ground to tracking livestock using web-based monitoring devices. Some NBN-enabled farms are also resolving issues much faster by holding video conferences with vets and mechanics. Farmers can also use the significantly faster internet speeds to promote their business and grow their customer base. Whether it’s conversing with customers through social media or saving critical hours on day-to-day activities like online banking, the NBN grants access to a whole new world of online tools farmers can benefit from.

> Video conferencing with the likes of vets and mechanics can quickly resolve farm issues.

> Better monitoring of livestock and soil levels using internet tracking devices (e-tags, soil probes and more).

> Online tools such as social media and online shopping can promote your agricultural/ food production business.

3. Professional services in the cloud

SME take-up of cloud services is still slow, mainly because small businesses haven’t yet had the requisite bandwidth to access these services. The NBN allows them to significantly lower their operating costs and improve their productivity by operating in the cloud. Whether it’s introducing efficiencies in daily operations with point-of-sale services such as Kounta and Vend, streamlining accounts with Xero or Quickbooks, remotely collaborating with staff or conducting off-site data back ups, the NBN allows small firms to embrace the cloud.

> Save on travel costs by streaming presentations and meetings directly over the internet.

> Collaborate with geographically dispersed employees remotely using screen sharing and video conferencing.

> Telecommute with staff on the road or working from home.

Internetrix

With offices in Wollongong and Beijing, this consulting business relies heavily on cloud-based collaboration and video conferencing. Owner Daniel Rowan says the NBN’s tenfold increase in speed has improved efficiency. “We can send, receive and store data instantly across our offices,” he says. “The improvement in video conferencing in terms of speed and picture quality means we’re getting more out of our meetings because we aren’t experiencing lags and drop-outs. It’s also saving us the need to travel interstate to see existing and potential customers.”

4. Connecting students and industry experts

The NBN has a vital role to play in the education sector, too, with the ability to connect subject-matter experts with students through telepresence. Video collaboration means guest lecturers can reach a classroom of students no matter the location, enriching the learning experience. They can share not only their knowledge, but rich content such as PowerPoint slides and study documents. Universities in the US, including Stanford, are already beaming in guest lecturers and speakers previously unavailable to them.

> Virtual excursions and better online learning.

> Improved digital literacy for urban and rural students.

Business coaching Canberra

Tony Ozane runs a business coaching service from his home in the ACT, where success largely hinges on the speed of his internet. While he still has some clients he deals with face-to-face, Tony relies on the fast speed of the NBN to deliver the bulk of his services, which include webinars, video conferences and online courses. Before connecting to the reliable NBN, his Skype sessions and other video conferencing tools were so unreliable, he often depended on the telephone. Less buffering has seen the biggest difference, allowing Tony to work with no interruption. Being a home-based business, the NBN has also improved his family life, with everyone now able to be online at once, even while he’s working.

5. Tele-operated manufacturing

The NBN allows the teleoperation of connected machines and near real-time tracking of productivity at plants. High-definition video, shared images and data (telepresence technologies) will also be useful in vocational training for manufacturing and engineering.

> Remote teleoperation of connected manufacturing equipment allows real-time productivity tracking.

> Better support for overseas customers and partners thanks to easy screen sharing and high-speed video conferencing capabilities.

> Next-generation training systems in manufacturing feature telepresence and augmented reality – additional computer-generated information is projected into a training session.

CKAS mechatronics

This specialist Melbourne-based business manufactures and sells flight simulators to customers all over the world. Before the NBN, the level of support CKAS Mechatronics could offer to its customers was limited. Now, with access to the extra bandwidth needed for running applications such as high-speed video and screen sharing, the business can respond to requests immediately. “We can see phenomena or effects which are happening in real time at the customer’s site, rather than trying to describe them over the phone,” says business founder Chris Kasapis. “That’s made a big difference.”

What do Aussie businesses know about the NBN?

  1. 25 per cent know a lot
  2. 64 per cent know a little
  3. 11 per cent have never heard of it
  4. 83 per cent don't know when the NBN will be available for their business

6. Extra value for the online retailer

More than 50 per cent of Aussie businesses still don’t have a website, meaning they’re effectively invisible to the 18 million Australians active online each month. What’s more, retailers are missing out on an enormous share of potential customers whenever they close their doors – an online shopfront operates 24 hours a day and expands the customer base to a global level. Significantly faster internet speeds make it easier for retailers to set up an online store. Hosted turn-key platforms like Shopify allow companies to set up an e-commerce site within minutes. With the NBN’s improved upload speeds, that inital set-up is much faster and ongoing site maintenance is a breeze, too. Retailers are also taking advantage of improved speeds for uploading videos to popular streaming sites such as YouTube.

> Faster NBN speeds make it easier for businesses to get online than ever before.

> Cloud-based applications and storage mean lower operating costs and improved productivity.

> A more stable, faster connection allows quicker day-to-day operations (updating inventory, sending/receiving emails and transacting on EFTPOS machines).

> Saving time and expensive travel costs – high-definition video conferencing means easy linking with suppliers.

Wanted Steetwear

Tasmanian-based retailer Luke Dawson has been using the NBN’s fast internet speeds to conduct “stutter-free” video conferences with his interstate and international suppliers, saving him both valuable time and travel costs.

Matchbox Townsville

This small retailer uses the NBN to speed up day-to-day operations, such as product sourcing for customers, updating inventory, sending and receiving emails and faxes and transacting on EFTPOS machines.

Kingswood Florist

Tiffany Dickens can now Skype busy brides and grooms who don’t have the time to come into the store and choose flowers.

Want to learn more about how the NBN can help your business?

 See if your business is NBN ready.

Find Out More

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