Up until 2009, the year in which NBN.co was created, many small businesses in Australia relied on dial-up internet as the most common and affordable connectivity option. However, as businesses began relying more heavily on the internet, ADSL became more attractive due to its faster speeds and reliability. It allowed businesses to browse the web, check emails, and even manage basic online operations like online banking or e-commerce.
As small businesses grew, they needed more reliable and secure internet connections to meet their growing demands. This led to the introduction of dedicated leased line connections, which were high-speed, secure but also significantly more expensive than ADSL. While these lines were ideal for businesses that required a consistent, uninterrupted connection for mission-critical applications, the jump in price from ADSL made bonded copper services offering symmetrical speeds out of the question for many businesses. These services were also limited in availability by location and vendor, with an often complex pricing structure based on whether an office was located within a metro or regional area, with the definition of each location type often varying between vendors in each state.
There were many product names, huge inequality in connectivity options between regional and metro areas (and sometimes even from one metro area to another), and infrastructure monopolies. All of which was applying a handbrake to the adoption of online tools and e-commerce.
These were the catalysts for the creation of The National Broadband Network (NBN Co) in April 2009, a government-owned corporation tasked with designing, building, and operating Australia’s wholesale broadband access network. As mentioned above, it was created with the goal of addressing several issues that the country’s telecommunications industry was facing, namely:
The project aimed to build a high-speed broadband network connecting every Australian home and business to the internet, regardless of location or infrastructure limitations.
The creation of NBN.co was an admission by the Government that the free market in Australia’s telecommunications industry wasn’t working. Why? Well firstly, the industry was dominated by a few large players who had established their positions through historical advantage rather than market competition. These players had a significant amount of control over the industry and could maintain high prices and limit competition.
Secondly, there was limited competition in the industry due to the high cost of infrastructure investment required to enter the market. This limited the number of companies that could offer telecommunications services and created a significant barrier to entry for smaller players.
Thirdly, there was a lack of uniformity in the infrastructure across the country. The existing copper network was outdated and unable to deliver the high speeds required for modern internet usage. This meant that some areas of the country had faster and more reliable internet services than others, creating a digital divide between urban and regional areas.
These factors resulted in an industry not delivering the high-speed, reliable and affordable internet services Australians needed. NBN.co was created to address these issues by providing a wholesale-only network that allowed retail service providers to offer their own services on the network, increasing competition and choice for consumers. It also aimed to future-proof Australia’s telecommunications infrastructure by ensuring that the network could handle the increasing demands of future technologies such as virtual reality, artificial intelligence, and the Internet of Things.
Everything NBN Explained
The team is finishing up the upcoming playbook that gives you the detail needed to sell Australian NBN internet services effectively. From high-level market intel to service-specific details, it’s all covered.
NBN Project Aims
On launching in 2009, the main objective of NBN.co was to increase the accessibility and quality of internet services across Australia, with a particular emphasis on improving access in rural and remote areas. The key initial high-level objectives were:
Over time, some of these objectives have evolved due to changes in government (more to follow on the politics of it all…), technological advances, and challenges encountered during the rollout. Here’s how some of the initial objectives have evolved: