NBN announces 1Gbps enterprise wholesale product

With the rollout now reaching metro areas, NBN is updating its enterprise services with a 1Gbps Ethernet product, a dedicated team for working with businesses, an 'industry engagement' partner program, and tailored pricing.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

The company rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has announced an "accelerated launch" of its wholesale enterprise products and services, including an Ethernet product providing symmetrical speeds of up to 1Gbps.

NBN will kick off an industry trial of its new enterprise Ethernet product in November, with the product to be in market by the end of 2018.

"Accelerated launch of a wholesale direct fibre broadband product [will] provide access to enterprise-grade high bandwidth, which is designed to achieve symmetrical speeds of up to 1Gbps as well as increased operational support," the company said.

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

"Enterprise engagement teams and field technicians will be established to work closely with phone and internet service providers to ensure a smooth transition, particularly for moving special services such as Ethernet Lite and ISDN to the new network," NBN explained.

"Complex and multi-site migrations will be project managed between NBN Co and the service provider."

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 focusing on aiding larger enterprises and government businesses in their migration across.

"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.

"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 has also announced a new "industry engagement" partner program to provide training for its vendors and consultants.

"A new partner program targeted at the ICT 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.

Lastly, NBN 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.

The enterprise product pricing changes follow widespread criticisms of NBN's wholesale pricing structure, with the company recently denying the culpability of its connectivity virtual circuit (CVC) charges in any margin squeezing for RSPs.

Instead, NBN suggested that falling profits could be due to retailers focusing more on a "land grab" than on providing high-quality services to consumers.

RSPs including Vocus, Vodafone, MyRepublic, and Macquarie Telecom have long argued that the only reason retailers are not offering 1Gbps speeds is the CVC and access virtual circuit (AVC) pricing.

However, NBN CEO Bill Morrow has criticised retailers for cutting corners by focusing on pricing rather than speeds or quality of service after he revealed that the average bit rate per user is around 1Mbps.

NBN is currently dealing with the wholesale pricing model through consultation with retailers on CVC, which the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) last month declined to step into, saying an industry-led decision would be preferable.

The ACCC earlier this week announced that it will also conduct a public inquiry into the appropriateness of NBN's wholesale service standard levels to determine whether regulation is necessary in order to improve NBN customer experience.

The announcement follows the ACCC publishing its Communications Sector Market Study: Draft report [PDF] on Monday, which said "immediate measures" are needed to address dissatisfaction with speeds and rising consumer complaints.

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