Business NBN: Key things to look for before signing up
From upload speeds to service levels, check the details before you get your business connected.
The National Broadband Network (NBN) operates for both residential and business customers. While the underlying network is the same, the requirements for business plans are very different from what home broadband users need.
With a business plan, you're connecting multiple people. You may be hosting a website, phone networks or complex applications. You're often sharing enormous files between different sites. So when the NBN becomes available at your premises, there are key issues you need to consider before you sign up for a plan.
Assess the speed you'll need
The speeds you can get from the NBN will depend on the connection technology that's available at your location. If you're lucky, you'll have a fibre to the premises (FTTP) connection, which offers the most possible speed options. You can opt to pay to have your connection upgraded in some instances, but this is an expensive exercise.
A specific element of speed to consider carefully: upload speeds. Upload speeds matter much more in a business context. If you're regularly conducting video conferences or sharing large files, then decent upload speeds will make a big difference.
The cheapest business NBN plans only offer an upload speed of 20Mbps. If you pay more, you can choose 40, 100, 200 or 400Mbps options. However, those higher-speed options are typically only available if the NBN option available at your location is fibre-to-the-premises.
See what other features you require
A business NBN connection does more than simply make it possible to browse the Internet. Businesses will often seek extra features from their plan as well. Common requirements for businesses include:
- Telephone services. Since the NBN replaces the existing copper telephone network, you'll need to switch your business landline services as well. Depending on your needs, that might require new IP telephony handsets, or might it be delivered through softphone applications running on a laptop or mobile phone.
- Static IP. Many businesses require a static (fixed) IP address, which makes it possible to host sites and applications and can be a useful security enhancement for controlling access to network resources.
- Guaranteed uptime. Standard NBN plans are generally "best effort", meaning that the service should always be available but that outages can happen. If you need higher levels of reliability, you can pay more for guaranteed uptime. Note, however, that you'll never get 100% uptime (networks always need maintenance, for starters).
- Additional software and services. Business NBN providers may offer extra services, such as access to cloud-based software packages for email or customer relationship management (CRM). Since these are also often paid for on a month-by-month basis, this can be useful, but you should compare standalone pricing and support services offered before committing.
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Check the contract and support terms carefully
Most business NBN plans require a contracted commitment. Make sure you're clear on what the terms of the contract are. In particular, check whether you can change services (such as moving onto a higher speed tier) within the lifespan of the original contract.
Also, be clear about which support options are available. Cheaper services may have more limited options, with restricted hours for accepting calls. Most business providers will have a 24/7 option, but this will invariably cost more.
Enhanced service level agreements: The eSLA explained
As with any business service, you'll want a service level agreement (SLA) that defines how quickly any problems are dealt with. As you'd expect, faster response times cost more. If Internet services are crucial to your business, then having services restored more quickly is likely to be worthwhile.
A key element underpinning any business NBN SLA is the enhanced service level agreement, known as the eSLA, which NBN Co offers to its providers to receive faster responses when faults are raised. Without an eSLA, faults can only be raised on weekdays and may not be fixed until 5pm the following business day. The eSLA guarantees faster responses to NBN problems and quicker fixes. It's a popular choice for providers offering business plans.
The table below shows the different eSLA options offered by NBN Co. Remember, the eSLA timings relate to communications between NBN Co and providers around faults, and how quickly the faults are rectified. The response times in individual contracts between businesses and providers will vary depending on the provider. However, the eSLA timings do provide a useful baseline when comparing providers.
|SLA or eSLA||Operational period||Rectification time|
|Standard||8am-5pm (business days)||5pm next business day|
|Enhanced-12 (24/7)||24/7||12 hours|
|Enhanced-8 (24/7)||24/7||8 hours|
|Enhanced-6 (24/7)||24/7||6 hours|
|Enhanced-4 (24/7)||24/7||4 hours|
Pictures: Getty Images
Need high-speed business NBN? Aussie Broadband has you covered.
Note: Indicated typical business hour speeds are likely to be much higher - Aussie Broadband is setting the advertised typical speeds to the same enjoyed by the 250/100 plan while data is collected as the 1000/400 plan is rolled out.