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NBN throws AU$700 million at hooking up 700,000 businesses with fibre

Do it once, do it right, do it with something else, then do it with fibre.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: NBN

The company responsible for the National Broadband Network (NBN) announced on Tuesday it was spending AU$700 million to create 240 "business fibre zones" that will cover 700,000 business premises.

Being part of a zone will allow businesses to get a full fibre Enterprise Ethernet connection, as well as reduced rates and connection fees.

NBN added that when it connects a business within a zone to fibre, it will not charge the business for the act, and if the business signs a 3-year deal, NBN will not charge the internet service provider.  

"Enterprise Ethernet is NBN Co's fastest symmetrical wholesale product and premium-grade business offering. It has options for prioritised traffic, high capacity, and symmetrical upload and download wholesale speeds from 10Mbps to close to 1Gbps, as well as enhanced 24/7 support through the business NBN operations centre with a dedicated team located in Australia," the company said in a statement.

Of the 240 zones to be created, 85 will be regional centres, while another 14 will be allocated "specifically to underpin existing health precincts".

An initial 130 zones were released on Tuesday, with 61 in the regional centres and 11 in health precincts.

"Having helped level the playing field for residential internet services with the rollout of the NBN network, we are now turning our attention to accessibility for our premium-grade business services, helping businesses in regional areas access the benefits of competition, enhanced broadband support services, and better wholesale NBN prices for the digital services they need to succeed," NBN CEO Stephen Rue said.

"For the first time, any business in an NBN business fibre zone can get the same premium-grade services and the same wholesale prices as those in the centre of our biggest cities."

The company has also set aside AU$50 million to "work with local councils and state and territory governments" across three years to extend its business-service footprint outside the designated zones.

Within NSW metro, the initial fibre zones will be in Botany, Gosford, Lake Haven -- Wyong, Lane Cove, Mosman, Neutral Bay, Parramatta, Randwick, Marrickville, Double Bay -- Rose Bay, and an amorphous Central Coast zone.

In regional NSW, the zones will be created in Albury / Lavington, Armidale, Ballina, Batemans Bay, Bathurst, Charlestown, Coffs Harbour, Corrimal -- Austinmer, Dubbo, Goulburn, Lismore, Maitland, Mudgee, Newcastle CBD, Nowra, Orange, Port Kembla -- Warrawong, Port Macquarie, Tamworth, Taree, Wagga Wagga, Wollongong, and Shoalhaven.

For Victorian metro, the zones are Berwick South, Box Hill, Clayton, Collingwood, Dandenong, Mornington, Springvale -- Noble Park, Burwood, Chadstone -- Oakleigh, Caulfield -- Carnegie, St Kilda -- Elsternwick, Blackburn -- Mitcham, and Richmond -- Hawthorn.

Elsewhere in Victoria, the zones are Ararat, Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Geelong, Horsham, Mildura, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Warrnambool, Wodonga, and Morwell -- Traralgon.

Around Brisbane, the zones are in Annerley, Archerfield, Coorparoo, Darra - Richlands, Eagle Farm, Mount Gravatt, Stafford -- Alderley, Tingalpa, Morningside -- Lytton, and Indooroopilly -- Toowong.

For the rest of Queensland, Bundaberg, Caloundra, Gladstone, Gympie, Mackay, Maroochydore, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Southport, Toowoomba, Townsville area, Wurtulla -- Birtinya, and Cairns -- Port Douglas will have fibre zones.

Tasmania will have zones in Burnie, Devonport, Hobart, and Launceston.

Over in Perth, the zones are Balcatta, Bassendean, Canning Vale -- Riverton, Fremantle, Henderson, Malaga, Mandurah, Midland -- Guildford, O'Connor -- Murdoch, Osborne Park Industrial, Rockingham, Subiaco -- Nedlands -- Shenton Park, Wangara, South Perth, Bibra Lake -- Coogee, Applecross -- Melville, and Belmont -- Cannington.

For the rest of WA, there will be four zones across Albany, Bunbury, Busselton, and Geraldton.

While in Adelaide, the zones will be Edinburgh, Hawthorn -- Malvern, Hindmarsh, Lonsdale, Melrose Park, Mount Barker, Norwood, Port Adelaide -- Gepps Cross, Prospect area, Richmond, Toorak Gardens, Unley -- Parkside, Woodville Park, and Willunga.

Outside of South Australian metro area, Mount Gambier is the sole business fibre zone.

Canberra gets zones in Belconnen, Canberra CBD, Deakin, and Phillip, while NBN has allocated a zone called Queanbeyan – Hume to an area dubbed "ACT regional".

The Northern Territory gets three zones in Darwin, Palmerston, and Casuarina.

When the zones scheme is completed, it is expected 90% of businesses within the NBN footprint will be able to have a fibre connection.

"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," Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said.

"It will also boost the productivity of businesses within each of the 240 business fibre zones."

As for Labor, Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland criticised the decision.

"After spending AU$51 billion on a second-rate network, and a decade critising Labor, it turns out fibre was better all along," Rowland said.

"Today confirms the Liberals don't have a clue when it comes to technology or economics. Their only motivation is the politics of the moment and Australians have lost out."

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