Commitment to regional and remote Australia boosted

NBN Co continues to invest in lifting the digital capability of Australia with new regional-focused business unit.

As the rollout of the nbn™ broadband access network draws ever closer to the conclusion of its build phase in 2020, close to 98 per cent of homes and businesses in regional Australia can now – or will very soon be able to – access the benefits of connectivity.

Yet, we know our job in regional and remote Australia isn’t over. In fact, far from it.

While the nbn™ access network has already delivered significant benefits to those living and working in regional and remote Australia, we’re not stopping at the rollout.

Rather, we remain fully committed to providing even greater access to broadband services in these areas, and helping more businesses and homes in harder-to-reach locations to experience it too.  

To this end, we have just announced a number of major initiatives that reinforce our commitment to regional and remote Australia, including the launch of a new business unit whose sole focus is meeting the needs of our customers in the country.

And I’m beyond happy to have been given the opportunity to lead this team in my newly appointed role as NBN Co’s Chief Development Officer – Regional and Remote.

Now, let me share my vision for this team – and for remote and regional Australians – with you.

Boosted regional support

As I see it, what success looks like for this new business unit is clear: meet the needs of customers in rural and regional Australia, while raising the digital capability of these areas.

So, to help ensure rural and regional customers are kept front of mind, the new unit brings together our existing Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster™ satellite teams, including engineers through to operations staff.

We’ll also recruit more on-the-ground community relations professionals to work on key areas, including helping to lift digital capability; helping improve customer experience; and ensuring we help accurately identify and address local problems and concerns.

And, of course, making sure the right people know about the social and economic benefits of fast broadband.

Our hope is that this will lead to greater understanding of customer expectations across business sectors and community segments.

This initiative follows a key recommendation from the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review: Getting it right out there report, which called for NBN Co to assign an experienced member of our senior executive management team to improve and upgrade the Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster™ satellite networks.

It’s also our response to community feedback on how to better evolve our wholesale offering in these areas.

On a personal note, I’m immensely proud to work at an organisation so deeply committed to its vision, and our country.

My appointment to this role feels like a natural extension of my time so far at NBN Co. I’ve been responsible for products, product development and product lifestyle management in my previous roles in the business and, before that, spent 25 years in the industry.

Yet still I’m excited, after all these years, to achieve more. More for our business, more for our country and – most importantly – more for regional and remote Australians.

Better business in the bush

But wait, as they say, there’s more.

This new regional-focused business unit announcement is joined by another that signals good news for businesses in regional and remote parts of Australia – the launch of business nbn™ Satellite Service.

Designed to support the digital needs of medium and large businesses in remote and rural locations, the new wholesale offering aims to help businesses compete and scale by lifting digital capability.

With a range of wholesale data and speed options available, just some of the industries business nbn™ Satellite Service has been designed to support include mining and resources; oil and gas; emergency services; forestry; construction; education; health; tourism; and, of course, agriculture.

Willis Island, located 450 kilometres off the coast of Cairns and one of 60 Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) sites, recently trialled the new service to provide better broadband to support the work of its scientists:

Suffice to say, we’re excited to discover what other benefits and opportunities business nbn™ Satellite Service will bring to those like the BoM.

In addition, a new wholesale business nbn™ Satellite Service product is slated for launch in 2020 – this time designed for large enterprise and government networks.* I look forward to sharing more details with you about it soon.

Our ongoing commitment in action

Over the next four years, we will also continue to invest $800 million in helping manage both the capacity and performance of our Fixed Wireless network which, by 2022, is expected to represent a $3.55 billion investment in this network.

Earlier this year, I talked about the perks of Sky Muster™ Plus, our wholesale product offering access to fast broadband services with the added bonus of unmetered data for essential web activities, like web browsing, select emailing, and PC and smartphone operating system software updates, subject to certain exclusions.^

We’ve also upgraded the capacity of our all-important transit network with double the bandwidth capacity on this 60,000-kilometre fibre-optic backbone. This future-focused upgrade is designed to help increase maximum capacity for residential and business customers in the future. These upgrades are focused on high-traffic fibre links, including the 3600km route between Brisbane and Darwin.

Over the horizon

All of this forms part of our redoubled commitment to regional and remote Australia to continue to help meet the needs of customers in these non-metropolitan areas.

For businesses in these regions, we know that the nbn™ access network is delivering worthwhile benefits for those who connect. This is backed by research from Connecting Australia, conducted by AlphaBeta and commissioned by NBN Co~, which shows the nbn™ access network has helped – and is expected to continue to create – new businesses, as well as support initiatives like greater worker flexibility.

By 2021, the research projects, up to 80,000 new businesses around the nation will be attributable to the nbn™ access network, with 20,000 of those in regional and remote Australia. It also forecasts as much as an additional $5.3bn in gross domestic product in regional areas alone by fiscal year 2021.

I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly looking forward to seeing our new business unit in action. To see what else we can achieve with a laser-like focus on regional and remote Australia, which – you may be surprised to know – consumed almost half of all data on the nbn™ access network.

It’s just one of the reasons why meeting customer needs and raising the digital capability of these areas is an absolute priority.

* Initial business nbn™ Satellite Service wholesale products focus on remote business requirements for high-data capacity and Internet of Things, with an additional wholesale product planned to launch next year. The Access Bandwidth Service will seek to provide committed wholesale speeds that are essential for critical applications required by large enterprise and government customers.

^ Exclusions and fair-use conditions apply. If you’re accessing your connection via a virtual private network, or applications that do not use HTTP/HTTPS protocols, all activities will be metered, even those specified above as “unmetered activities”. For more information on which internet activities are unmetered and exclusions visit nbnco.com.au/skymuster-plus or speak to your phone and internet provider. For details on fair-use conditions, contact your phone and internet provider.

~ The Connecting Australia report was commissioned by NBN Co through independent research agency AlphaBeta. It combines national census data with an Ipsos survey of 3500 individuals across 1700 postcodes in metropolitan, regional and remote areas, including those connected to the nbn™ access network and those not connected.