The NBN Means Do-or-Die for Remote Workers

The NBN isn’t smoke and mirrors for home workers

NBN launches 2 billion dollar satellite so that rural and regional workers can start a business and work from homeIn September, the Australian Government launched a 780-tonne rocket, called the Sky Muster, into space. The Sky Muster was not intended to determine whether there was life on Mars nor any alternative solar systems; it’s purpose was to beam wireless broadband back to 200,000 homes and businesses in some of Australia’s most remote outposts. It was the next phase of the National Broadband Network’s rollout strategy to have more Australian premises connected to its fibre optic network.

We’ve been keeping a close eye on the NBN rollout because, when it’s finally complete, it will mean that almost every household and business in Australia will have access to high-speed internet, providing greater opportunities for regional businesses to work with metropolitan and international-based ones, for kids to have access to high-quality education, and to give a greater number of people in regional Australia the opportunity to work from home.

Although the NBN has been through many incarnations – first under the former Labor Government as fibre-to-the-premises (FTTP), then under the Abbott Liberal Government the priority was fibre-to-the-node (FTTN), and now under the Turnbull-led Liberal Government as a mixture of FTTN and FTTP, where the the latter is available – the NBN is still a hugely important investment in Australia’s future.

The high cost of living makes NBN a necessity

The high cost of living, particularly the cost of housing in places like Sydney and Melbourne, has seen many Aussies, including singles and younger couples, moving to regional parts of Australia, where housing is more affordable; a practice that wouldn’t have been possible a decade ago, or even as recently as five years ago.

That’s because jobs, excluding those in the retail and hospitality sector, are limited in regional Australia. Moving out of the city for a sea or tree change was something retirees could afford to do, but not younger working people because the jobs simply weren’t there. But technology, coupled with cloud computing and, of course, high speed internet, has changed that.

Now, more people can continue to work for their employer in Sydney, even though they live, say, on the Central Coast, by teleworking at one of the NSW Smart Work Hubs in Gosford or Wyong (more people, still, can live in Newcastle and only commute as far as Gosford or Wyong to telework at a Smart Work Hub for their Sydney-based employer). But what’s becoming far more commonplace is the number of people starting their own businesses, which they operate from their homes in regional Australia.

These are the next communities to receive the NBN

If you live in regional Australia, then you’re probably very familiar with the challenges people have accessing broadband internet. In most regional communities, demand for broadband internet outweighs the supply ports, so you have to wait until someone else disconnects their broadband service – which, today, means they’ve either moved out of the area or…. died – before you can connect your service (or progress in the queue). And believe it or not, that’s not even the worst of it.

Other areas throughout Australia don’t have the infrastructure available to even connect to the exchange, never mind the port. That’s because Telstra’s ageing copper wire network is in desperate need of an upgrade, but the company had been so slow to prioritise any upgrades that it threatened to derail the Government’s NBN initiative. In December last year, the government-owned NBN Co signed an $11 billion buyback deal with Telstra, so that the copper wire network can be gradually replaced with FTTP but that could still take many years.

The good news is that there are currently more than 870,000 Australians who can already access the NBN, while an additional 550,000 premises, throughout Australia, have been added to the rollout plan, with construction to commence by September 2016. These additional communities include:

Queensland New South Wales
Greater Brisbane (21,300 premises)

North Queensland (24,400 premises)

Sunshine Coast (36,200 premises)

Southern Queensland (8,100 premises)

Gold Coast (19,500 premises)

Far-North Queensland (780 premises)

Wide Bay Burnett (1040 premises)

Greater Sydney (26,600 premises)

Central Coast (6,400 premises)

Central West (16,900 premises)

Hunter (25,000 premises)

Murray (9,700 premises)

North Coast (26,100 premises)

North West-North West Slopes (2,400 premises)

Riverina (35,100 premises)

Snowy Mountains (5,200 premises)

Southern Tablelands (800 premises)

Southern Highlands (1,600 premises)

Victoria South Australia
Metro Melbourne (56,200 premises)

Barwon (5,300 premises)

Gippsland (23, 400 premises)

Loddon Mallee (46,900 premises)

North East (15,370 premises)

Adelaide Hills (900 premises)

Greater Adelaide (19,00 premises)

Eyre Peninsula (10,400 premises)

Far North (2,800 premises)

Limestone Coast (23,300 premises)

Yorke and Mid North Coast (9,900 premises)

Western Australia
Greater Perth (56,100 premises)

Goldfields-Esperance (6,000 premises)

Great Southern (3,700 premises)

Kimberly (6,400 premises)

South West (2,000 premises)

Wheatbelt (3,700 premises)

Mid-West (500 premises)

South West (670 premises)

Is the NBN coming to you?

If you’re already able to access the NBN or are shortly going to be able to, don’t just sign up to Netflix! Make the most of the NBN by starting your own home-based business and provide valuable services to businesses located all over Australia. Whether you’re a writer, a web developer, bookkeeper, or administrative assistant (better known online as ‘virtual assistants’), there’s a huge marketplace for your skills all over Australia and throughout the world.

Content marketing, for example, has become a hugely popular marketing activity for many businesses, now that other traditional marketing opportunities have started to dry up. A key component of content marketing is written content – blog posts, ebooks, e-newsletters, web copy. If you’re a writer, with a flare for business writing, you can start your own home-based content marketing or freelance writing business from your home in regional Australia, and all you need is a computer and access to the internet!

EzyLearn can help you to start your own business today

EzyLearn has being using content marketing almost exclusively ever since we transitioned from a bricks-and-mortar business to an online one in 2008. In that time, we’ve seen a plethora of other businesses begin to utilise content marketing too, so we decided to create a content marketing training course, born of our 7-plus years content marketing experience.

If you’d like to learn more about creating marketing content for businesses, you can register your interest in our content marketing course or enrol in our blogging for business training course. If you’re looking for work now, and you have experience as a virtual assistant, a bookkeeper, content marketing, health and safety, or in IT, EzyLearn has partnered with WorkFace to help you start your own home-based business. Visit the WorkFace website for information on the opportunities currently available.

Has the Australian Government shelved its Teleworking initiative for good?

How Teleworking Began in Australia

teleworking
Our Team are teleworking independent contractors and they can help you do the same

In 2011, the then-Gillard Government introduced a teleworking initiative, established to encourage private sector employers to allow their employees to regularly work from home. The teleworking initiative was soon followed by Gillard’s own commitment in 2012 to have 12 percent of all Australian public servants teleworking by 2020. But the initiative also served another purpose: to promote the use of the national broadband network (NBN).  

That was then. By 2013, the Gillard Government had been ousted, and the NBN has been through many different incarnations since it was first announced – it’s still moving forward, albeit as a significantly scaled back offering to what was originally proposed. Also ousted in 2013 was the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), which oversaw the Government’s Teleworking initiative.

In place of the DBCDE, the Government formed the Department of Communications. It’s primary functions are the same as the DBCDE’s, with one exception: there’s no teleworking initiative, which has ostensibly gone the way of the clog (remember those?). For whatever reason, it now appears that the Federal Government isn’t very interested in encouraging Australian businesses to have their staff telework or to utilise teleworkers, who may be scattered across Australia.

Employed Teleworkers not Independent Contractors?

Could it be that the telework initiative stepped on the toes of various of state and territory level telework initiatives that involved funding, what the NSW Government has dubbed, Smart Work Hubs? Smart Work Hubs, like the one at Wyong on the NSW Central Coast, are essentially co-working spaces established to encourage employers to allow their staff to telework – from one of the government-funded smart hubs, of course.

This is an interesting move, but it relies on people who are already employed and already commuting to a major city centre or business district to utilise the smart hubs, which come at a cost to either the employee or their employer. The locations of the existing five pilot smart hubs in NSW are already located in major areas – Western City and the Central Coast; all areas with easy access to high speed internet services.

For more smarts to be rolled out in other regional areas – Newcastle is rumoured to be next – the existing ones need to prove they’re worth the investment, and that relies on numbers. A significant number of teleworkers, the emphasis here being on teleworkers and not the self-employed, need to be using the smart work hubs regularly enough for the NSW Government to rollout the next phase of smart work hubs.

But as I hinted before, this relies on people who already have access to high-speed internet services at their home and who are still within commuting distance to their place of work, to be willing to pay to telework regularly. Maybe the reason the Federal Government really scrapped its teleworking initiative had nothing to do with the NSW Government’s smart work hubs at all. Maybe it had more to do with it’s new-look NBN.

What the scaled back NBN really looks like

When the NBN was originally proposed, the original plan was to deploy high-speed-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband for most Australians, but that was soon ditched by the Abbott Government for being too expensive. The new-look NBN now consists of a mixed network that prioritises fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology, which means that fibre optic cables are run to each internet node and the rest of the connection is completed through Telstra’s ageing copper wire network.

Under this NBN, the speed of your internet will vary on how far you live from the node. The further away you live, the slower it will be. But it’s okay, the Government has promised that the slowest NBN speeds could ever get to is 25 Megabits per second (Mbps), the same speed the US Federal Communications Commission defined as the absolute bare minimum to be able to call an internet connection broadband.

The other issue, of course, remains the copper wire network, which the Government now has to buy back off Telstra for $11bn (after the Howard Government sold it to Telstra a decade ago) when it discovered there was a lack of infrastructure in most regional areas of Australia that prevented many households from even connecting to the exchange, never mind the port – as well as some households in major cities.

So what now for teleworkers?

If you’re a teleworker and you live near a NSW Government smart work hub, use it. Certain hubs offer discounts to the NSW Government’s definition of a teleworker – someone who usually commutes to their workplace – while the self-employed can still reap the benefit of working from a smart hub, which are located near or offer child minding facilities, cafes, parking, and gyms.

If you were counting on the NBN to make it easier to work remotely or start your own business, don’t give up on it yet. The Government knows that the key to remaining competitive in the global marketplace is to have access to high-speed telecommunications networks, so the NBN is still, and will continue to be, a major priority.

If you’d like to start your own home-based business, but don’t know where to go for advice and support now that the Government has, seemingly, abandoned it’s teleworking initiative, visit the WorkFace website. WorkFace is an EzyLearn business partner made up of a network of teleworking professionals who have helped many EzyLearn graduates start their own home-based virtual assistant businesses.

Blogging is a Teleworking Task

The article you’re reading is part of the EzyLearn blog and this work can be done from anywhere in the world so it’s a popular outsourced task. If you want to explore blogging for your business or want to learn how it works so you can offer it as a service then discover our Blogging for Business Online Training Course.