With work progressing on first and second release National Broadband Network (NBN), the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE) and the NBN Co are hitting the road to talk to businesses about how they can benefit from the NBN. The first stop is Mandurah, Western Australia, where we are hosting a business forum today.
One of the key messages that we are seeking to convey is that access to high-speed broadband is increasingly essential to the way Australians communicate and do business. Getting online and maximising your online opportunities has the potential to increase sales, improve your customer service and expand your customer base.
A recent global study by McKinsey found that:
“small to medium businesses with a strong web presence grew more than twice as quickly as those that had minimal or no presence, regardless of which sector they were in. In addition, SMEs that took advantage of the Internet reported the share of total revenues that they earned from exports was more than twice as large as that reported by others. They also created more than twice the number of jobs as others.”
The NBN will be a game changer, providing new opportunities to harness the benefits of online engagement. The NBN will provide homes and businesses with access to both high download and upload speeds which are essential for applications such as high-definition videoconferencing. The bandwidth the NBN provides and its national coverage will allow more Australians than ever before to use of a wide range of high bandwidth online applications simultaneously.
As one of the first several regions to receive the NBN, Mandurah businesses are well placed to take advantage of these opportunities.
Some regional business owners have already told us how the NBN is helping their businesses. Tasmanian sign writer David Jones has described the change in capability since connecting to the NBN last year as going from “walking around in sandshoes to driving a Ferrari”, allowing him to transfer large files that previously had to be couriered.
Robbie Sefton, the Director of Communications and Marketing firm Sefton and Associates, says that with team members and clients located all around Australia, the NBN is “enabling country businesses – be they farms or be they small business – in towns or regional centres to actually expand their business opportunity.”
NBN-enabled teleworking (using technology to enable you to work for an employer from home), is likely to be a particularly enticing opportunity for many Mandurah businesses and residents. Teleworking may help some residents who need to spend less time commuting long distances. The ability to telework may also open up new employment opportunities for people in regional areas by allowing people to work for employers in capital cities.
One of the key industries that currently exists in Mandurah is tourism. A November 2010 report by the Australian Communications and Media Authority found that ‘travel goods and services’ was the most popular item bought by Australians online (56 per cent). Further, as many of Mandurah’s potential tourist customers may be located in various time zones all around the world, a strong online presence with services such as online reservation and enquiry forms, mean that its businesses can be open 24 hours a day. Business owners don’t lose sleep and they don’t lose sales.
Of course, the NBN has the potential to also attract a whole range of new industries to Mandurah.
As a second release site, Mandurah will be one of 40 communities to benefit from the Digital Enterprise program . This will give local businesses access to group training seminars as well as one-on-one advice on how they can use the NBN to make greater use of online opportunities to grow and enhance their businesses efficiently and better achieve their organisational goals.
If you would like to find out more about the Mandurah NBN Business forum, you can visit the event calendar on the DBCDE’s NBN website www.nbn.gov.au . And if you aren’t in Mandurah you can keep an eye on the calendar to find out when one of these forums will be held in your town. The next one is already set for Coffs Harbour on 10th August.
And if you have any questions about the NBN specifically, check out these answers at our NBN website.
by Mia, DBCDE