The National Broadband Network is looking to bring small and medium sized Australian businesses into the digital space, but is it too little too late?
With Government claims to revolutionise the way Australian businesses operate in the digital space, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype.
But the National Broadband Network (NBN) is unlikely to change the way small and medium sized businesses work.
As a digital entrepreneur and business owner, I understand how the NBN will affect Australian businesses, and the way technology is advancing will make the new network immediately redundant by the time it is fully rolled out.
The NBN is purported to assist businesses’ digital growth and development by providing access to the latest broadband and download rates, but what many businesses don’t realise is that mobile technology advancements are already catching up to the NBN tech capabilities.
Like business, mobile is continuously evolving and, over the next couple of years, it will surpass the speed and accessibility of the NBN.
In fact, wireless service providers have already begun trialling networks with download speeds up to nine times faster.
So what does this mean for small to medium enterprise (SME) operators?
Businesses need to understand that the NBN will not be a game changer, and it will be naive to consider it so.
Businesses need to be constantly looking forward if they don’t want to get left behind.
If businesses really want to innovate, they shouldn’t be looking into this technology which is likely to be redundant by 2015.
Businesses need to look at their own operations in the digital space as well as the way people use and access technology if they want a true understanding of how these digital technologies will develop.
As a speaker and mentor across SME networks and events in capital cities and regional communities across Australia, and with more than 10 years’ experience running my own online businesses, I understand the habits of digital entrepreneurs – and they are looking towards mobile technology.
Take a look at my five reasons why the NBN won’t fit in with digital business growth in Australia, and how the network upgrade can actually be bad for business.
1. Mobile technology will improve
We’ve seen it happen repeatedly with mobile technology – competition between providers will drive better services.
The increasing demand for improved 4G services will result in increased coverage and faster, more reliable data. If service providers are focusing their attention on developing this technology, then that’s where the focus should be for SME operators.
2. Mobile means mobile
People are constantly on the move, and this is also true for businesses.
In fact, small business owners will spend more than a third of their time away from their desks.
The improvements in mobile devices and cloud technology have changed the way we work, making us more reliant on mobile internet access.
3. Payment technology is changing
The past year has seen mobile payment services be introduced into the market.
Business owners are responding to the low fees, quick system setup and convenient service access.
This increase in demand may see mobile payments eventually replacing full merchant payment facilities because of the benefits for both customers and business owners.
4. Small business owners don’t see value in the NBN
Forty percent of Australian small business owners expect no benefit at all from the NBN, a survey revealed.
This means that almost half of all Australian businesses – as SMEs make up 95 percent of Australian businesses – don’t believe the NBN will improve their operations in the digital space.
This is a revealing statistic as to what is to come, as the opinion of these businesses are crucial to the success of the NBN.
5. City businesses will foot the bill
The NBN Co broadband will use uniform pricing for the project, meaning that city businesses will be forced to pay the extra costs of regional access.
These city businesses have ready access to mobile technology and are unlikely to respond favourably to paying above-market rates for a service.
Although improvements in technology are usually welcomed by and beneficial to businesses, especially SMEs, the NBN is set to hinder their digital growth potential.
Businesses need to be able to respond to the constantly evolving digital technologies and understand that all upgrades are not necessarily advantageous.
By comparing future technologies and the direction that businesses are moving, it’s clear that the NBN won’t be the best option for most SME business operators and they should take advantage of the opportunities offered by moving into the fluid digital space.
Fred Schebesta is the co-founder of one of the country’s biggest online comparison websites finder.com.au, and regular mentor to startup businesses.
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