More than 700,000 businesses across 240 designated ‘Business Fibre Zones’ nationwide will get access to free upgrades to gigabit fibre connections as part of a $700 million post-COVID economic recovery package.
Under an initiative announced in Port Macquarie on Tuesday, Communications Minister Paul Fletcher said businesses would be able to access premium-grade NBN business fibre at no upfront build costs.
The package offers wholesale symmetrical speeds from 10 Mbps up to 1 Gbps on-request in 240 Business Fibre Zones across the country, including 85 located in regional areas. It also reduces wholesale pricing by up to 67 per cent for businesses in Zones outside metropolitan centres.
The government investment in the package aimed to improve the accessibility and affordability of business-grade fibre for small to medium-sized businesses to better enable growth opportunities.
Mr Fletcher said the investment would be critical to the nation’s economic recovery and to the government’s goal for Australia to be a leading digital economy by 2030.
“During this global health crisis, the NBN has proven itself to be a vital national asset. It has supported Australian businesses as they have innovated and adapted to digital operating models to overcome the challenges of the pandemic and enabled families and friends to keep in touch virtually,” Mr Fletcher said.
“For the first time, businesses outside capital city centres within these Business Fibre Zones will have access to CBD zone wholesale prices, driving annual cost savings of between $1,200 and $6,000,” he said
Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said the additional investment into NBN Co’s Business Fibre Initiative would enable businesses to boost digital capabilities and create jobs.
“This Initiative will create more jobs as we combat the impact of COVID-19 on our economy and employment across our country. The construction of the Business Fibre Zones will deliver up to 6,000 new jobs by 2021-22, including more engineers, project managers and construction crew,” Minister Cormann said.
“It will also boost the productivity of businesses within each of the 240 Business Fibre Zones. This will include 14 Zones centred around major hospitals, which will help facilitate the formation of globally competitive health precincts.
“By providing businesses and essential health services with dedicated fibre at affordable prices, NBN Co is boosting access to digital productivity tools and providing significant new opportunities for innovation.”
NBN Co will allocate $50 million to help expand these Business Fibre Zones by co-investing with Local Councils and State Governments.
Called the Business Fibre Initiative, the program is being funded from part of the $6.1 billion private debt facilities recently established by NBN Co and announced in May 2020, as well as company revenue.