NBN Co to connect 700,000 businesses to high-speed fibre under $700m plan

NBN Co to connect 700,000 businesses to high-speed fibre under $700m plan

Nine in 10 businesses will be able to order high-speed broadband services as part of a $700 million Federal Government package to make business-grade fibre more accessible.

Under the new initiative NBN Co will roll out premium-grade NBN business fibre services to 240 'zones' nationwide, allowing SMEs to embrace new opportunities for growth.

Businesses that take up the offer will be able to access the high-speed broadband at no upfront build cost to their retail service providers.

The initiative will offer wholesale symmetrical speeds from 10 Mbps up to 1 Gbps on-request to more than 700,000 businesses in 240 'Business Fibre Zones', including 85 zones in regional areas.

The Federal Government claims its program will reduce wholesale pricing by up to 67 per cent for businesses in zones outside metropolitan areas.

The first 130 zones include locations across the country from Rockhampton in Queensland, to Bunbury in Western Australia, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, Mount Gambier in South Australia and Devonport in Tasmania.

Businesses in these zones will be eligible to access 'Enterprise Ethernet', NBN Co's fastest wholesale product, which provides options for prioritised bandwidth, 24/7 dedicated support through NBN's business operations centre, and symmetrical wholesale speeds suitable for data intensive applications such as online collaboration and cloud-based tools.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher said the digital infrastructure investment is a critical component of the Government's COVID-19 economic recovery plan.

"During this global health crisis the NBN has proven itself to be a vital national asset. It has supported Australian businesses as they have innovated and adapted to digital operating models to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and enabled families and friends to keep in touch virtually," said Fletcher.

"The Morrison Government understands the importance of continued investment into Australian businesses and digital connectivity. That's why we are making affordable ultra-fast broadband available to more businesses Australia wide."

"For the first time, businesses outside capital city centres within these Business Fibre Zones will have access to CBD zone wholesale prices, driving annual cost savings of between $1,200 and $6,000."

Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the additional investment into NBN Co's Business Fibre Initiative will enable businesses to boost their digital capabilities and create thousands of jobs.

"This Initiative will create more jobs as we combat the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and employment across our country. The construction of the Business Fibre Zones will deliver up to 6,000 new jobs by 2021-22, including more engineers, project managers and construction crew," said Cormann.

"It will also boost the productivity of businesses within each of the 240 Business Fibre Zones. This will include 14 Zones centred around major hospitals, which will help facilitate the formation of globally competitive health precincts.

"By providing businesses and essential health services with dedicated fibre at affordable prices, NBN Co is boosting access to digital productivity tools and providing significant new opportunities for innovation."

NBN Co will allocate $50 million to help expand these Business Fibre Zones by co-investing with local councils and state governments.

The initiative will be funded from part of the $6.1 billion private debt facilities recently established by NBN Co, as well as company revenue.

Group executive at Macquarie Telecom Luke Clifton has welcomed the $700 million program.

"Today's announcement proves the NBN has not just been an ally to businesses in the heat of the pandemic, but that it is committed to helping businesses get back on their feet, reduce their costs, and access the connectivity they need in an enhanced digital economy," says Clifton.

"Crucially, the availability of point-to-point fibre-on-demand to 85 regional zones will bring greater competition to regional Australia and be the final nail in the coffin for tier ones underserving and overcharging regional businesses that have not had choice of provider.

"The value of our now most important national asset has been proven and then some, and the position we're in is a complete turnaround from the detrimental journey tier one telcos had us on before the NBN was introduced and executed."

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