NBN launches training program

IT consultants and solutions providers supporting businesses in their transition to the NBN will now have access to an NBN-run online training program, information portal, and contact centre.

Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) company has kicked off a training and accreditation pilot program for companies that support businesses connecting to the NBN.

"The new program aims to provide the information and communications technology industry with tailored information about the steps businesses need to take when connecting to the NBN access network, as well as a suite of additional support services to assist with the migration process," NBN explained.

According to GM of Channel Management Keith Masterton, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are using IT consultants to support their migration to the NBN, with NBN therefore wanting to ensure such consultants have the proper knowledge to provide helpful advice.

"We recognise that connecting a business to the new network may take some time and preparation. This new program aims to ensure the IT industry is equipped to work with NBN Co and service providers to help businesses migrate their complex services to the NBN access network and make the most out of the benefits it can provide," Masterton added.

"The pilot will enable us to work with a broad range of ICT professionals to finesse the program and ensure we are getting feedback from them on all the necessary tools, training, and information they need to support their clients ahead of the official launch to industry next year."

The IT channel program will also provide a portal for information on new broadband products and technologies, and updates on the rollout; a dedicated contact centre for "support, channel management resources, and system architecture advice"; and access to retailers for pre-sales advice, business-grade solutions, and lead management.

Telstra, Vocus, Cisco distributor Westcon-Comstor, and IT support company Computer Troubleshooters Australia are taking part in the pilot, with NBN saying the full program should launch in Q1 2018.

"Our franchisee networks are increasingly required to respond to questions from small and medium businesses regarding the rollout of the NBN access network," Computer Troubleshooters national manager Michael Dowling said.

"This program will enable our network to be educated and therefore better positioned to manage our clients' expectations during the transition to the NBN access network."

According to a report by BuzzFeed News, NBN is also offering an online training program to Australian politicians following the announcement last week that it would be halting the rollout of its hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) network while it repairs issues causing network dropouts.

NBN sent an email to all MPs and senators and their staff members on Thursday last week for a "masterclass" in HFC, BuzzFeed reported.

NBN had last month announced its new "industry engagement" partner program to provide training for its vendors and consultants.

"A new partner program targeted at the IT industry ... will offer training and accreditation for technology providers and consultants to educate business customers about what they need to do to connect to the new network as well as information on applications which can support their business over fast broadband," the company said at the time.

At the same time, it announced an "accelerated launch" of its wholesale enterprise products and services, including an Ethernet product providing symmetrical speeds of up to 1Gbps.

An industry trial of the gigabit product kicked off in November ahead of market availability by the end of next year.

NBN also developed a team to support businesses in their migration to the NBN, with the team to provide dedicated case management.

According to NBN business chief customer officer John Simon, the early stage of the rollout saw NBN focus on small and medium-sized businesses. With the rollout now reaching metro areas nationwide, it is consequently widening its focus to aid larger enterprises and government businesses in their migration.

"We recognise larger organisations require a dedicated support team, which is why we're scaling up and working with our partners to deliver the types of services these businesses expect with minimal disruption to their organisation," Simon explained in November.

"We will continue to work with industry and keep up with market trends in order to provide access to fast broadband services that meet the needs of Australian businesses now and in the future."

NBN also said it would introduce tailored pricing on its wholesale business products, including the capped pricing model brought in on October 1.

NBN's spending cap across high-bandwidth business products -- its Traffic Class 2 wholesale product offered over its fibre-to-the-premises (FttP), fibre-to-the-node (FttN), and fibre-to-the-building (FttB) networks -- sees pricing based on the amount of bandwidth purchased by retail service providers (RSPs) each month.

"The new pricing model has been developed to help retail service providers package up plans targeted at medium and enterprise businesses, those with between 20 and 200-plus employees, which represent around 11.7 percent of Australia's total business market," NBN said in September.

"Designed to support both high download and upload speeds, the products will enable business-grade applications such as multi-line voice, high-definition video conferencing, and online backup, which help businesses increase productivity, lower costs, and improve customer service."

According to NBN, it undertook industry consultation prior to announcing the spend cap, which will replace the NBN Business Ethernet (NBE) product originally expected to launch by the end of 2017.

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