What have we learned about business nbn™ usage in 2020?

January 14th, 2021 - Get new posts sent straight to your inbox, click here. Heidi Kraak

There’s no question 2020 has revolutionised the way businesses use connectivity.

The pandemic and subsequent lockdowns around the country functioned as a catalyst, accelerating existing trends in business towards digitisation. Fixed-line nbn™ services have perhaps never been more important to the survival and growth of businesses.

While it’s looking like lockdowns won’t be here to stay in Australia, the rapid – and, arguably, successful – deployment of a remote workforce in a matter of weeks has changed the game in terms of how we rely on connectivity. Studies are showing that a lot of Australians don’t want to return to the pre-pandemic norms of office-centred working arrangements. Regional hubs are experiencing real estate booms as city-dwellers relocate, no longer restricted by the geographical constraints of proximity to metro workplaces.

Lockdowns have subsided, but Australia’s increased reliance on connectivity looks set to stay.

Business are increasing their nbn™ usage

According to NBN Co, traffic on the nbn™ broadband access network has grown markedly since lockdowns were enforced across the country earlier this year. Interestingly, while lockdowns are subsiding, the traffic increase doesn’t appear to be reverting to pre-Covid levels.

NBN Co reported significant growth in peak download throughput in July, 2020, increasing by 34 per cent to a record peak of 14.8 Tbps, compared to pre-Covid baseline levels. In August, that figure jumped to 16.2 Tbps – a 47 per cent increase from pre-Covid baselines.

Aussie Broadband observed small to medium businesses were upgrading from standard nbn™ connections to premium or Enterprise-grade services – between March and the end of November, more than 2300 business services were upgraded in plan size, compared to about 680 in the same period in 2019.

Aussie Broadband also reported an increase in demand for data, static IP addresses, and VPN and temporary VOIP services from business customers.

According to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the number of higher speed broadband services across the country exceeded 5 million for the first time, jumping from 4.9 million to 5.2 million last quarter. The ACCC’s Wholesale Market Indicators report said new consumers were being drawn to higher speed plans of 50Mbps and above. The report also demonstrated a jump in popularity of recently-introduced premium, high-speed plans with speeds of 100Mbps and above.

These trends can, at least partly, be attributed to an upswing in the usage of data-rich applications, such as docusign and dropbox.

We all joke about being sick of Zoom meetings, but the truth behind these sentiments is that the increased usage of bandwidth-intensive activities is a significant contributor to the growth of traffic on the nbn™ network. It will be interesting to see if – or how – the usage of such applications changes over the next year as we move to a post-pandemic economy. With some academics predicting a permanent shift away from traditional in-office working arrangements, we may continue to see high usage of these activities and applications across the nbn™ network.

Consumers are expecting goods and services to be available online

Another way the pandemic has impacted business usage of nbn™ is the growing expectation of consumers to interact with businesses online.

Activities that, prior to lockdown, were traditionally done in person are increasingly being performed in the digital space. This has implications for the way businesses of all kinds – not just businesses with ‘office-style’ set-ups – operate and deliver their services. The rise of e-commerce and the migration of retail to the online space is an obvious example. However, from healthcare to fitness, there are not many industries exempt from this digital migration.

An NBN Co study investigating Australian health and lifestyle habits following lockdowns found that one in two respondents working from home said they were keeping fit with the support of online exercise classes, while one third of young people aged 18-24 undertook online work and skills training.

Similarly, almost half of respondents who visited their GP in the past two months did so virtually via telehealth services, and almost two thirds of respondents said they would continue using telehealth services into the future.

These statistics highlight how businesses that traditionally don’t operate online – such as gyms, education facilities and healthcare providers – will increasingly need to diversify their online offerings to remain relevant in a rapidly digitising economy. Businesses will need to be creative in the way they cater to consumers wishing to access goods and services online.

How your business can stay ahead in the post-pandemic economy

The first step to ensuring your business doesn’t get left behind in the great online migration is ensuring you have access to fast and reliable nbn™ connectivity backed by a quality provider.

The speed tier you’ll need will largely depend on the size of your business and what kind activities you plan on using. For data-rich applications, such as Cloud storage and videoconferencing, you’ll need the top speeds to ensure minimal disruptions. For maximum reliability, why not take advantage of the $0 fibre upgrade offer available to 9 out of 10 businesses when they sign up to an nbn™ Enterprise Ethernet plan?

Whether you’re a small business or a large enterprise, Aussie Broadband has an nbn™ solution to meet your needs and propel your business into the digital future.

To read more about how your business can stay competitive in the post-pandemic economy, download our free ebook here.