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What to Look for in Business Grade NBN


The devil is in the detail

Aside from security, the most common conversation subject with customers at the moment is regarding the NBN. You know, the promise of limitless data, ludicrous speed (to quote ‘Dark Helmet’ from the movie Spaceballs), all at really cheap prices. As is usually the case, the devil is in the detail and it’s causing quite a lot of problems for businesses. Particularly small to medium ones.

Let’s start with what’s happening.

The NBN network is replacing the old phone network, right across Australia. They’re connecting roughly 20,000 locations per DAY and as a result, the old copper phone lines are being disconnected. You do have some time to switch, but a project of this size doesn’t make sure you are swapped over. They publish dates and then they action. So from the time the NBN becomes available in your area, you have roughly 18 months before the traditional phone lines (which includes things like wired monitoring alarms, traditional phone lines ADSL and other internet services delivered over phone lines) are turned off. For good. Can you opt out? No.

So, what does this mean for internet connections?

Simply put, most businesses need a new internet connection that runs on 1 of 3 infrastructure networks: NBN, Fibre or wireless. For now, I’m just going to focus on NBN, because that’s where I believe there is a lot of misinformation or at least lack of clarity. We’ve all seen the super fast, super cheap NBN plans. 100Mb/40Mb with unlimited data for under $100 a month. This is a residential grade product. The service is classed as “general internet” and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) use a thing called “contention ratio” to sell it so cheap. Basically, they over subscribe and hope not everyone is using it at the same time. Will you get a 100Mb download speed? Sure, sometimes. Maybe. No promises. As a comparison, a proper, business class of traffic with guaranteed 1:1 contention ratio is about 3 times the price of the residential product. That should give you an idea of what kind of guarantees you’re getting with that cheap plan.

The other problem is the Service Level Agreement (SLA). Basically, the standard SLA for the general internet class of traffic is “best effort”. That can mean days. Or weeks. Without you having any recourse.

There are some providers out there that will offer a “business grade” 100/40 connection, us included. This “enhanced SLA” general internet connection offers better contention ratios, a guarantee around restoration dates and is a good option for lost cost fast internet. But understand that this is still not a GUARANTEED speed. For mission critical connections, there are other options that I won’t go in to here.

What about phones?

If you’re still using landlines, you’ll need to switch them over to a voice over IP system (VoIP). There’s actually good news here, because it means you don’t need to manage your own phone system. For most businesses, a virtual phone system provides all the usual functions such as hunt groups, conferencing, transferring etc, for a fraction of the price of a traditional system.

What is the main takeaway?

If you’re on top of all of this, then fantastic, you will transfer to a suitable new connection and phone system without interruption. Just remember to leave plenty of time as carriers often have lead times before connections are delivered and working. If you’re not across this, you need to be or you may end up disconnected, or on an unsuitable connection and wasting time on the phone to an unhelpful call center. Installations, new networking hardware, security and telephone number porting, all need to be organized.

A final word:

Be careful of scammers!! This is the perfect mix of urgency, confusion and necessity that criminals love. They know you have to do something and they know you could be confused and an easy target. Talk to someone you trust. If you’re not sure who that is, give us a call at HotlineIT and we will point you in the right direction.

Jason LeGuier is CEO of Hotline IT Pty Ltd

Reproduced from the HRIA newsletter with their permission.