NBN extends migration window to three years for businesses

Businesses have almost twice as long to shift their systems over to the NBN under a new migration extension.

The company rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) has extended its migration window for businesses to transition from legacy services onto the new network, pushing it out from 18 months to three years from their date of notification.

Under the program, businesses will be disconnected either 36 months after the publishing date of the relevant whitepaper concerning the network connectivity they are currently using, or 18 months after their area is declared ready for service -- whichever option allows for the greatest amount time in each circumstance.

Businesses' disconnection dates now depend on when NBN released its Temporary Special Services White Papers concerning each technology in question. As such, businesses currently connected by Telstra CustomNet Spectrum and Telstra asynchronous transfer mode over copper will be required to migrate 36 months after April 2016; and those on Ethernet-Lite and Wholesale BDSL will be moved 36 months after September 25, 2016.

Businesses using DDS Fastway and Data Access Radial, and Megalink and Wholesale Transmission will be shifted over 36 months after May 2016; and those using TSS 4 frame relay, ISDN 10/20/30, and ISDN2 will be required to move 36 months after September 2016.

According to NBN head of Business, Products and Services Ben Salmon, the migration window extension will reduce the complexity of moving business services over to the NBN.

"NBN has been working with all of our industry partners, particularly Telstra, but a number of other retail service providers as well to make sure that we have a smooth migration process for businesses to get onto the NBN," Salmon told ZDNet.

"Part of that was ... to give an extended window to businesses, taking into account the fact that it is a more complicated migration process for businesses to get onto the NBN and off the legacy services such as ISDN and frame relay."

The purpose of the four whitepapers was to show businesses that NBN has an "equivalent service" to what they're currently connected by, Salmon said. This is particularly the case for small and medium-sized businesses, as large businesses are more likely to have moved across already.

"We see small, medium, large, and government customers all using these types of services, so it does apply to all customer types regardless of their size," he said.

"But in reality, what we find is that some of the really big end of town, really big customers, have moved already onto other services. And this is now just trickling down to other customers that can now take the time to get onto the NBN as these services start to hit that migration window."

Salmon said NBN is pushing the cost and convenience benefits of cloud computing to convince businesses to migrate -- but denied that the migration window extension is in response to a lack of businesses moving over to NBN services.

"We've been very successful, and we've had a huge take-up across the NBN of particularly small business and medium business," Salmon told ZDNet.

"This is more about we need to make sure that businesses are ready when the NBN comes to them to migrate across, so we're really acknowledging that it is a slightly more complicated business process to get ready to move onto the NBN if you're a business, and we want them to start earlier and migrate sooner."

Salmon also provided an update on NBN's rollout, saying it will achieve its goal of reaching half of all Australian premises by midyear.

"The NBN is rolling along very successfully, and we are at the point right now where a third of Australia can order a service and by June, we'll be able to say up to a half of Australia can order a service. And that ratio applies equally well for businesses," he said.

While NBN last month warned of the civil works disruptions it will cause when it takes its rollout to Australia's major cities later this year, Salmon said the process of accessing infrastructure in the dense CBDs would not slow the rollout down.

"The benefit in having a more dense business area like the CBD area is that sometimes it's quite a bit easier for us to get in there and install fibre in the basement, for example," he said.

"So there are pros and cons -- there's also congestion in the city that might become an issue at some point, but I think in general, the increased density that we see in the CBDs will probably make our job a bit easier."

Some of the cities in which NBN will begin construction or switch on its network during 2017 are Sydney, Campbelltown, the Hills District, Warringah, and Randwick, New South Wales; Brisbane, the Gold Coast, and the Sunshine Coast, Queensland; Hobart and Devonport, Tasmania; Fremantle and Bassendean, Western Australia; Salisbury and Onkaparinga, South Australia; and Moonee Valley City, Boroondara City, Casey City, Glen Eira City, and Knox City, Victoria.

NBN last week reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) of negative AU$1.004 billion, a 45 percent increase from last year's negative AU$688 million, for the first half of the 2017 financial year. Revenue more than doubled to AU$403 million for a net loss of AU$1.83 billion.