The NBN provides your business with faster and more reliable broadband speeds. This guide will help you find the best NBN deal for your business.
The National Broadband Network (NBN) is being rolled out across Australia, as a much-needed upgrade to the dated internet infrastructure of before. If NBN is available in your area, it’s an opportunity that’s probably well worth taking advantage of. Even if it’s not at your address yet, it very likely will be within the next few years, in which case it’s probably time to start preparing so your business can hit the ground running.
Compare Business Broadband Plans
Why should you choose an NBN plan for business?
Faster speeds provides your business with the opportunity to improve the way your business operates.
Greater support for business
Internet providers recognise the critical data needs of business customers, providing increased support for your business.
A fast and reliable broadband connection allows your business to work without interruptions.
The NBN is designed to replace the older and soon to be obsolete ADSL network, and to finally bring high speed internet to more remote parts of Australia. To reach everyone the NBN uses a mix of technologies including fibre optic connections, wireless, satellite and existing short-distance connections within streets and buildings. Fibre optics will make up much of the network, and are essentially glass cables which are capable of transmitting large amounts of data much more quickly, with much less degradation over longer distances, and with greatly reduced bottlenecking in high traffic compared to other connection types.
In short, the NBN provides a broadband connection that is simply much faster, and much more reliable. For business purposes, this matters. If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated at slow internet and wondering how much productivity it’s costing you, you'll understand the opportunities to be had with faster connections.
The main plan benefits to compare before applying for an NBN business plan
- Data, communication and speeds: The right plan should match your business needs. Pay special attention to both the upload and download speeds, and consider the range of networked equipment your business uses, as well as the typical day to day internet use. It’s generally a good idea to have a buffer for every person who will be using your business network, so everyone can maintain productivity at “slow internet” times. Essentially, the more people getting online and the more data you need, the larger the buffer you need.
- Multiple phone lines: If your business has more than one phone line it’s essential that your provider is able to accommodate them.
- Enhanced service level agreement (eSLA): Businesses can look forward to receiving faster response times and a higher level of support for their NBN service. This type of agreement is between the service provider and business.
- Monthly data allowance: For business purposes it’s generally a good idea to avoid any plans with caps, and to limit your comparisons to unlimited data plans.
- Minimum monthly cost: This can give you a good overview of what the costs will be, to consider in line with one-off fees and monthly fees.
- Call allowance and cost: Try to get an idea of how much phone calls will be costing you, and look for a plan with any phone features that suit your needs, such as free, unlimited local calls or an international call allowance.
- Set up fees: How much will it cost to get set up?
- Early termination charges: With the NBN still developing and more providers entering the market it can be a good idea to look for a flexible plan. The catch is that these typically cost a bit more every month. Weigh potential early termination charges against the cost difference of a no lock-in plan.
- Hardware and equipment: Does the plan include any routers, signal boosters or other equipment? If so, consider whether it’s right for you and whether it’s a free extra or you’re being charged for it.
- Support services: How’s the customer service? When your business depends on it, you want to know there are prompt answers available and support for any outages or issues. Besides checking the service agreement you can also research the provider’s reputation online, specifically with an eye towards how other business customers have had their issues resolved, how long it took, whether there were unreasonable charges and anything else you find.
- Additional benefits and perks: Discounts, bundle options, bonuses and other perks are widely available as competitors jostle for business. It can be worth factoring these into your decision, but generally not at the cost of finding a plan that suits your needs.
How the NBN can help your business to…
- Engage customers better. Faster connections can greatly improve your customer experience. This means fewer people clicking away because your website is slow, and the ability to make it much more immersive sites with better features, higher quality images, more videos and whatever else you need. If you want to use more videos or high quality images as marketing material, it’s quicker and easier to send it out. In particular, if you have customers overseas you can expect to notice a difference.
- Bolster productivity. Higher speeds naturally mean less downtime and more productivity, but also help remove obstacles for remote, overseas or at home workers, and let them engage as easily and readily as if they were there in person.
- Get more flexible data access with cloud services. Cloud based services deliver access to important information and materials no matter where someone is. An obstacle of cloud services is the speed at which one can upload and access it, and the NBN helps remove these.
- Save money. Having a faster, higher quality connection can help save on travel time and cost. For example, a doctor’s office with the NBN can now send and receive x-rays of exceptional quality for faster accurate diagnoses, and can also let specialists around the world see them. With an old copper connection this would simply have been time and cost-prohibitive. Your business might be able to video-conference internal meetings, engage customers around the world and talk with suppliers with all the efficiency benefits of face to face communication. The NBN goes a long way to removing the barriers and costs of distance.
Why are there so many NBN technologies, and how do they affect my business?
The complexities and costs of rolling out a fibre optic network around Australia has led to a few different types of connections. Depending on where you’re situated, the NBN’s internet will arrive at your business in a different way. It is important to note that you can’t choose which type of NBN connection you will receive. The main ones are:
- FTTP - Fibre to the premises: Fibre optic network right to your office/ home. The advantage of FTTP is that it allows for the highest possible speeds.
- FTTN - Fibre to the node: Fibre optics to a nearby node, then copper to your business. The speeds of FTTN can be variable and lower than the advertised speeds depending on your specific location and the the length of copper used.
- FTTB - Fibre to the basement: Fibre optics to the building, typically the basement, and then copper to your unit. Also known as fibre to the building. In most cases FTTB should offer speeds approaching FTTP, and better than FTTN.
- HFC - Hybrid fibre coaxial: Uses an existing pay TV or cable network running to your premises from the node, for higher quality than copper.
- FTTdp - Fibre to the distribution point: A cross between FTTP and FTTN in both price and quality, with fibre to the node, a different kind of fibre to a distribution point nearer to the premises, and then copper over a shorter remaining distance. The idea was devised partway through the development of the NBN, and is expected to feature in the wider rollout.
- Fixed wireless NBN: Intended for areas where running wires is not feasible or is cost-prohibitive. An estimated 4% of Australians will end up with fixed wireless NBN. This transmits wireless internet to the premises from a fixed line-of-sight location, in a way that performs significantly better than copper over longer distances.
- Satellite: A satellite dish is installed on the premises in rural and remote locations to receive the NBN connection. This is the slowest type of NBN connection, but because it’s generally reserved for the most remote areas it will almost certainly be a significant upgrade to your current broadband.
It’s important to know what you’ll be getting, because this determines what your speed limits will be. FTTP is generally the fastest, with all of the others having technical bottlenecks which may prevent you from getting the speeds advertised by the fastest plans, depending on the age, quality and condition of the existing copper cables, or other limitations.
However, in almost all cases it should still be significantly faster than ADSL, and upgrades are frequently being made. If your business is in a situation where the existing copper (or HFC) wiring is the obstacle it may be worth looking more closely at the plans which offer greater flexibility and do not lock you into an extended plan.
Can I get a fibre network installed to my premises?
Yes, although the costs are generally quite high. You may be responsible for both the installation and ongoing maintenance costs, which would typically be the responsibility of the network provider. Both the short term and long-term costs are generally not worth it except in specialised circumstances.
What NBN speed does my business need?
Consider both the download and the upload speeds when looking at plans.
- Download: The speed at which you can receive inbound traffic, such as streaming a video.
- Upload: The speed of your outgoing traffic, such as sending files. Upload speed is typically a lot more important for businesses than it is for residential plans, so it’s worth paying more attention to this, in line with your business needs.
|NBN tier||Speed||Business type|
|Tier 1 (nbn 12)||For businesses with basic phone and internet usage.|
|Tier 2 (nbn 25)|
Tier 3 (nbn™ 25)
|For small businesses requiring an upgrade in speed from the standard plan offering but also want to manage costs.|
|Tier 4 (nbn 50)||For small businesses with high definition streaming needs, uploading and downloading large files.|
|Tier 5 (nbn 100)||Ideal for small-to-medium businesses with several employees accessing the internet simultaneously.|
How to switch to the NBN
If the NBN is now available in your area and your business is ready, then making the switch itself is straightforward. Simply contact your chosen provider and prepare your establishment to get the ball rolling.
Checklist: Make sure your business devices are moved over to the NBN successfully.
It’s essential to make sure your business is prepared before making the switch. Other than the internet itself, certain equipment and services might also be disrupted.
- PBX systems or multiple phone lines: Contact the equipment provider or phone service for advice on compatibility with the NBN and any changes which may be required.
- Fax machines and fax lines: Check with the phone company whether your equipment, and their service, is compatible with the NBN.
- ATM on site: Contact the relevant bank to see whether it’s compatible.
- EFTPOS terminals: Contact the bank or other relevant provider for advice on minimising disruption and downtime. The same applies for HICAPS and health claim terminals, or similar networked card reading devices.
- Cloud services: Contact your chosen internet service provider for information on expected disruptions, and ways of minimising it.
- Wider area networks such as VPN: Speak with the equipment and service providers to find ways of minimising disruption, and to check up on the data needs.
- Unified communications (eg, video-conferencing systems): Contact the equipment and internet service provider for ways of minimising disruption, and to find out your data needs.
- Telephony (eg, VOIP): Consult the equipment and internet services provider for information on compatibility, data requirements and reducing disruption.
- Monitored security alarms or cameras: Check with the equipment provider whether the gear is compatible with the NBN, and any changes you may need to make.
- Fire alarms and lift emergency phones: If you have a monitored fire alarm or lift emergency phone, register them with NBN and consult your lift maintenance provider for any compatibility issues.
- Medical alarms or autodiallers: Register these with the NBN and check with the equipment providers to make sure it’s compatible, and to help minimise any break in service.
Business NBN frequently asked questions
Are there any NBN plans designed for businesses only?
Yes. There are some NBN plans which have speeds, capacities and other benefits which put them well beyond the needs of residential customers. If you have a medium or large business, or have particularly intensive data needs, then there are some business-specific features you might want to look for, not typically included in residential plans.
- Enhanced service level agreement: A business plan may include more competitive uptime service agreements than residential plans, and can be good for delivering peace of mind. An enhanced service level agreement means the NBN will provide a higher level of support to your ISP, which means great support for your business.
- Symmetrical internet connections: A high speed symmetrical connection offers simultaneously high speed uploads and downloads. Typical connections will often favour downloads by default.
- Multiple connections: Business plans can include multiple separate connections, each for a different purpose such as data or voice, to ensure reliability and high speeds for each. You can expect to pay considerably more for multiple connections since this requires more infrastructure.
- Expansion options: Some business plans may be more scalable, or have expansion options to help it keep meeting your needs in the future.
- Multiple location plans: You may be able to cover multiple office locations under one plan.
How fast is “super-fast”?
To meet the technical ACCC definition of super-fast, an internet plan only needs to have download speeds above 25Mbps.
Can business customers receive gigabit speeds yet?
Yes, but only wholesale. Gigabit speeds are 1,000 Mbps, or 40 times faster than “super-fast”. These are available for commercial customers, but only directly from NBN at the wholesale level. When you as a typical business or residential customer sign up for an NBN plan, you’re going through a third party provider. To date, none of these third party providers offer gigabit plans in Australia because there simply isn’t any demand for it at the prices they would have to charge.
What’s the difference between fibre and fixed wireless NBN?
In short, fibre is internet run through cables while fixed wireless is wireless. Fibre optics can deliver considerably higher speeds, and currently have higher speed plans available, while fixed wireless will generally reach speeds of up to around 25Mbps. Fixed wireless NBN is intended for areas where it’s not feasible to run fibre optic cables, and an estimated 4% of Australians will be able to receive it through direct line-of-sight towers.
What happens if I don’t change to an NBN plan?
In areas where the NBN fibre optic network is being run they are replacing the old copper network. Here, you have 18 months after it arrives to switch to an NBN plan before the old connection is shut off. The exception is in the few areas with fixed wireless, where no new fibre optics are being run and therefore the existing copper network is staying.