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Will The Ideas Boom be NBN-Paced?

We need fast NBN to deliver our innovation!

Thinkink about starting your own business and want to learn from small business mentors and other entreprenuersFollowing his $1 billion innovation announcement in December, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull received quite a grilling on the ABC program 7.30, hosted by Leigh Sales, who brought up one of the most widely criticised initiatives of the Abbott-Turnbull Coalition government: the NBN.

Although the government’s innovation statement was generally met with praise, especially for its $200 million commitment to funding the CSIRO (which, under the previous Abbott-led government, had its funding cut by $111 million), as well as a number of other measures that will make it easier for scientific research to be commercialised and encourage more children to learn coding and other computer sciences at school, there was criticism that no mention was made of the NBN.

If you’re looking for innovation ideas I recently recorded some interviews of my own with owners of various different business types from retail, video rental, white goods, business broker and internet technology about how they started their businesses, how they continually come up with new ideas and how they turn those ideas into products and services and build a business around them.

These entrepreneurs are part of the academic board for the Australian Small Business Centre and you can learn about these people here. In these videos interviews I ask many questions from startup and concept ideas to planning, marketing, sales, operations and financial aspects of their businesses.

Innovation, teleworking, remote contractors, technology needs good Internet speeds

There’s nary a business today, never mind the kind of “innovative” ones the PM is hoping to encourage in the future, that can get by without high speed internet, yet Australia’s current broadband internet speeds are some of the slowest in the developed world; the NBN could even be as slow as 25Mbps, which the US Federal Communications Commission recently said was absolute slowest speed an internet connection could be if it was still to be classified as broadband.

But that’s probably not the reason the prime minister made no mention of the NBN. Earlier this year, we published an in-depth look at the NBN after it was scaled back when the Coalition government took power in 2013, which drew a line between Australia’s, generally, underwhelming internet speeds and the government’s shelved teleworking initiative, which had been developed by the Gillard Labor government to get more people, particularly people in remote or regional communities, working from their homes using the NBN.

Then in November, documents that were leaked to Fairfax newspapers showed that the NBN may have to replace the Optus cable network it purchased for $800 million – which Labor had previously proposed decommissioning due to its state of disrepair, in favour of FTTP technology – which Malcolm Turnbull championed as a “landmark agreement” that would allow NBN Co to take ownership of the existing cable networks to use for the NBN rollout, without any additional cost to the taxpayer.

Post mining boom can Australia afford to invest in innovation?

Instead, it’s estimated that the cost of replacing the Optus cable network will blowout to around $375 million, as it’s not fit for purpose. Worse still, there will be some hundreds of thousands of premises left without access to the NBN until 2019 – and as I’ve mentioned elsewhere on this blog, there are plenty of regions, even ones in major cities, that are currently unable to connect to any high speed broadband service until the NBN is rolled out.

About a week later, more documents were leaked, this time to the Australian newspaper, that showed that the NBN also expects to spend $26,115 per node to fix Telstra’s copper lines to ensure that the service quality promised by the Coalition is achieved; this figure is ten times the amount originally estimated by the Coalition in 2013.

When questioned about the cost blow outs by Leigh Sales on 7.30, Malcolm Turnbull said it simply wasn’t true, but, well, the numbers don’t really lie. So if you were wondering why there was no inclusion or provision for the NBN in the government’s newly announced innovation plan, well that’s probably because it’s proven to be a bit more than the government can chew.

NBN or not you can still do an EzyLearn online MYOB and Excel course

The upshot, of course, is that we could end up with an entirely new cable network that’s capable of better than 25Mbps broadband speeds, albeit at a much later date and greater cost than originally promised by the Coalition. For now, though, it’s business as usual for the NBN, which announced in December that more than 500,000 premises in regional and rural Australia will now have access to the NBN with wholesale speeds of up to 50Mbps for downloads and 20Mbps for uploads.

When we started offering our online MYOB training courses in 2008 we offered a money back guarantee for several reasons and one of them was if a students internet access wasn’t fast enough they would have a tough time watching the videos. Although the rest of the training course resources (training workbooks and course exercise files) could easily be downloaded the videos would go through that buffering process of partly downloading and then playing, pausing, buffering etc. Luckily, there has been innovation in the US that enables training course creators like EzyLearn to upload their videos in HD format yet have them delivered in a format most suitable for the students broadband speed – still it’s always better to have super fast broadband so keep on working at it NBNco!

To see if you live in one of the areas where the NBN has been rolled out, visit the NBN Co website. Otherwise, if you’d like to be kept up-to-date with the latest news and developments on the NBN, subscribe to our blog.

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Has the Australian Government shelved its Teleworking initiative for good?

How Teleworking Began in Australia

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.