Study Points to NBN’s Missing Fiber Business Opportunities


New findings from the research firm Geografia reports that thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in benefits across Australia have been lost because of NBN Co’s decision to target residential areas instead of businesses. Launched with high hopes and enthusiasm to deliver high-speed broadband services throughout Australia, but often sunk in turmoil and notoriously politicized, the $41 billion national broadband network (NBN) has always been in trouble since its inception in 2009. The National Broadband Network (NBN) promised Australia a digital future but could not go much longer.

Research firm Geografia surveyed 322 businesses in three precincts in Southeast Melbourne on behalf of the Frankston, Greater Dandenong, and Kingston councils. The study found that in those areas alone the lack of NBN services had cost the region 1024 jobs and $8.4 million per year – a figure that could be far higher when extrapolated across the country.

NBN was established on 9 April 2009 to design, build and operate Australia’s new broadband network. NBN is a wholly-owned Commonwealth company – a Government Business Enterprise. The current NBN rollout has focused on connection to residential areas rather than business precincts. The current policy suggests they will gain fibre to the node at some unspecified point in the future.

Enterprises estimated they would achieve a 14 percent productivity gain if they had access to high-speed broadband and this equates to a current loss to the economy of $8.4 million per year and up to 1024 jobs in the region. Having faster broadband would stop businesses being forced to send jobs overseas or relocating for better internet speeds, the report said.

Manufacturing businesses, transport firms, data analytics companies and other businesses hoping to “restore” operations back to Australia were all dependent on faster broadband speeds, it added. Studies by Sweden and South Korea showed NBN-like services helped local businesses, moving too slow would result in Australia missing the boat while losing jobs and money.

NBN’s long term financial forecasts show its revenue streams will rely primarily on the residential market. Households are more likely to purchase the highest cost/highest speed service regardless of actual need. There are real economic costs to not rolling out high-speed broadband as soon as possible to commercial and industrial precincts and high-speed broadband is, and will increasingly become, essential to Victoria’s and Australia’s economic prospects.

NBN Co has already announced plans to change the implementation and target urban apartments in an effort to head off TPG Telecom’s plan to connect 500,000 apartments to a rival network. The Geografia report comes as NBN Co prepares to award new contracts that could force businesses to pay thousands of dollars for fiber optic cable connections as part of its Technology Choice program.


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