5G vs nbn™ – What’s the best internet for your business?
With the staged rollout of the 5G network in Australia currently underway, businesses have a growing smorgasbord of network connection options on the table.
With predicted peak download speeds of up to 20 Gps, the latest iteration of mobile connectivity is being pitched as an alternative to fixed-line connections in Australia. On the other hand, a bold NBN Co package for Enterprise Ethernet offers $0 fibre upgrades** – the fastest and most reliable nbn™ connection available today – to 90% of Australian businesses.
NBN Co has also launched the Fibre Connect initiative, which offers a $0 upgrade* to Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) for businesses and homes connected to Fibre to the Node (FTTN).
In a constantly-evolving technological landscape in which internet reliability and speed are vital to survival, businesses must contend with the dizzying decision of how to configure their network connections. Is it safer to stick with fixed-line nbn™ services or is 5G the way of the future? How do these technologies compare? And how can your business leverage these technologies to expand and improve your operations and bottom-line?
*Additional external costs may apply. Offer subject to service qualification for nbn™ FTTP upgrade. NBN may recover costs if services are downgraded/cancelled. A $200 downgrade/cancellation fee will apply if customers who accept this nbn upgrade downgrade to an ineligible plan or disconnect within first 12 months. Full fibre upgrade terms and conditions.
What is 5G?
5G stands for the fifth generation of wireless mobile networks. The technology has the potential to deliver higher data speeds and bandwidths more reliably than past network iterations.
The 5G network promises to deliver three key improvements:
- Faster speeds: Reports suggest that the minimum 5G speed should be around the 50-100Mbps range, and could be capable of download speeds as high as 20Gbps. The reality of this is still yet to be seen, as GadgetGuy demonstrated in 2021.
- Lower latency: Latency describes the lag in time between when you send a request to access data on the internet and when that request returns to your device. Basically, the lower the better. On a 4G network you’ll typically find something in the vicinity of 60 milliseconds. 5G internet promises to reduce latency down to as low as 1 millisecond. But, again, as this Forbes article points out, it’s far more complicated than that.
- More connections at the same time: More devices on a network tends to slow things down. But 5G offers the vague promise of more simultaneous connections on the network. This is especially important for businesses as the increased focus on the Internet of Things continues to expand how, where, and what you and your customers use the internet for.
While these predicted capabilities of 5G technology are certainly impressive, the network is only available in a handful of locations across Australia at the moment – mostly major capital cities – and users must have 5G-compatible devices^.
That said, technologists are touting the 5G network as ‘revolutionary’, with potential to change the way we live and work. If we’re connected to everything, it means we can adapt technologies like autonomous vehicles, Internet of Things devices, augmented reality and telemedicine into everyday life.
^5G rolling out in selected areas. Excludes TAS & NT
What is the nbn™?
The National Broadband Network is an update to Australia’s fixed-line phone and internet connection infrastructure. The staged NBN rollout has replaced the bulk of the existing copper lines with a mix of fibre-optic cables, fixed wireless broadband and satellite.
As of February 2022, 12.1 million homes and business premises across the country had access to nbn™ fixed-line services. By 2023, NBN Co estimate that around 75 percent of homes and businesses on the network will have access to the network’s highest peak speed tiers – of 500 Mbps to close to 1 Gbps***.
However, for now, millions of Australian businesses and homes still use partial copper lines with Fibre to the Node (FTTN) and Fibre to the Curb (FTTC) nbn™ technology types.
Upgrading the nbn™
For some customers on an FTTN connection, NBN have begun rolling out their program to upgrade the technology type to become Fibre to the Premises (FTTP). Around 2 million homes and businesses are already eligible, with NBN progressively adding more over time. NBN have also suggested that the FTTP upgrade will soon also become available for those on FTTC connections.
Business-specific NBN connectivity solutions have also become available. Many larger businesses or those with heavy data usage are opting for nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet. Unlike consumer-grade services, nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet offers symmetrical upload and download speed plans that range from 100/100 to 1000/1000 Mbps***. And, much like the FTTP upgrade initiative, it offers $0 installation to eligible customers**.
**$0 fibre install available in select areas with our nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet service on a 36-month contract. Additional charges may apply for a new property development and subsequent installations. Not available at all premises. All prices subject to change without notice. Actual speeds may vary due to external factors including in-building wiring.
***Due to equipment and network limitations the maximum wholesale speed of business nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet is 952Mbps. Actual throughput speeds may vary due to many factors including the performance of network equipment not operated by Aussie Broadband. Terms and conditions apply.
Is 5G internet better than nbn™ for business?
Effective and reliable connectivity is vital for businesses seeking to remain relevant in today’s economy. With an increasing migration of everyday business operations towards the digital space, it’s vital businesses get their connectivity mix right. Businesses without decent internet will struggle to remain competitive as everything from marketing to data storage becomes cloud-based.
While 5G pitches itself as a reliable alternative to fixed-line services, there are a range of factors to consider when selecting the type of connectivity to power your business. These include:
These factors will largely hinge on factors like:
- Where your business is located: As 5G coverage is predominantly available in major capital cities, businesses located in rural or remote areas may not have access to the technology.
- Where your employees are located: For businesses who have shifted to fully remote or hybrid working, 5G may make more sense. However, this will also depend on if your employees are largely metropolitan-based or live in regions further afield.
- How much bandwidth your business uses: Businesses with more bandwidth-intensive operations may prefer a fixed-line service like nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet makes sense as it can deliver more reliable options and guaranteed uptime.
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Editor’s note: This article was originally published on March 17, 2021 and has been updated and refreshed for accuracy and comprehensiveness.