Wednesday, June 27, 2012

NBN Shmen-BN - we're connecting to the net as never before

And we're doing it through broadband

The national broadband network may be a decade away, but already 91.2 per cent of Australian businesses are connected to the net. Of those, an impressive 99.1 per cent connect by broadband rather than dial-up.

Even in the agriculture sector, where a lower 88.5 per cent of businesses use the net, 98.3 of them do it via broadband.

The annual Bureau of Statistics survey finds Australia’s smallest businesses the least connected. So-called micro businesses employing four or fewer people have an 89 per cent connection rate (99 per cent via broadband). Mid-sized businesses employing up to 19 people are 93 per cent connected (99.2 per cent via broadband). Big business employing 200 or more are all connected (99.7 per cent by broadband).

Five years earlier when the then Labor opposition was drawing up its plans for the national broadband network only 81 per cent of businesses were connected to the net, although even then 82.5 per cent did it via broadband.

The big change has been in the use of the net...

Five years ago only 30 per cent of Australian businesses had websites. Today it is 42 per cent. Among businesses employing 20 or more people it is 74 per cent. Five years ago only 37 per cent of businesses placed orders via the net. Today it is 51 per cent.

The proportion of businesses capable of receiving orders via the web climbed from 21 to 28 per cent. A record $189 billion of orders were taken by the web during 2010-11, up $46 billion on 2009-10.

The sectors making the most use of the web for taking orders are wholesale trade and manufacturing, where more than 50 per cent of businesses engage in e-commerce. The sectors using the web least for transactions are agriculture and health care and social assistance. But even in those legard sectors e-commerce is far more prominent. Five years ago just 2 per cent of health care and social assistance businesses took orders via the web. Today it is 13 per cent.

The ABS measure of orders taken by the web is conservative, excluding regular orders made via the internet for which the original commitment to purchase was made using other means.

In today's Sydney Morning Herald

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aidan said...

Isn't this an argument for the NBN?

I'd like to see a satisfaction survey for those connections, looking at

1. Price
2. Reliability
3. Speed
4. Download caps
5. Latency
6. Contract terms/flexibility

The utility of a net connection is severely compromised if any of the above are below par.

Was recently working with a European chap, said mobile broadband was €20/month, no cap, no contract. Now THAT is competition.

Peter Martin said...

We won't be getting competition if NBN Co gets its way

Aidan said...

I think you are making the assumption that competition is only possible, or is better, if there are competing networks as well as competing ISPs.

Whilst it is certainly possible for a monopoly provider to extract rents (see NSW electricity distribution) they have tried to address that in the case of the NBN. I would welcome scrutiny of those arrangements to make sure there are no nasty surprises or side-effects.

I would argue that the NBN would, in effect, take 3 of the above factors out of the equation. Ideally reliability, speed and latency would be similar for all providers on the NBN. The ISPs would then be competing on price, caps and contracts/flexibility. It is much more transparent.

As a consumer I would welcome this. Not having to worry how far I am from an exchange, my signal/noise ratio, am I on a pair-gain circuit? With mobile broadband -- am I close enough to a tower, how badly does it suffer from contention in busy times, are the drivers compatible with my operating system, will the foil insulation in my house block the signal?

Telstra, as the dominant provider and owner of the infrastructure, gets more clients because there is an assumption that it will be easier and more reliable. What is the economic loss/inefficiency? I don't know, but it is greater than zero.

I'm fairly tech savvy, but there is WAY too much uncertainty when obtaining broadband currently.

wilful said...

This post is all perfectly fine, apart from the heading, and the first sentence. You seem to be claiming that any broadband is just broadband, as if there's no difference between fibre-to-the-home 100Mbit connections and a 256k satellite link. Which is utter nonsense, as I'm sure you know.

And you say that the NBN is a decade away. Now you know that's at best highly misleading.

Peter Martin said...

Perhaps the ABS should add a new question - do you have broadband, or do you have ultra-fast broadband?

For the moment the ABS doesn't differentiate. Broadband is just broadband, as you say.

The national broadband network will be completed early next decade (if things stick to schedule). It ain't highly misleading to say so.

wilful said...

But Peter, trying to reconcile "may be a decade away" with "actually is working for some people right now" - it isn't really the same thing is it?

And while the ABS don't differentiate "broadband" into fast or slow broadband, and they need to, since dialup is disappearing quickly, it doesn't mean you have to compound the error by suggesting they're commensurate.

Aidan said...

It might be enough to ask if people are happy with their internet service. Even then there would be people who, if they were told of better options, would be dissatisfied with their current arrangement, but knowing no better would report satisfaction.

I know from my own experience, going from 56K dialup -> mobile broadband -> 2Mbps FTTN, that my expectations for my internet service were conditioned by my expectations of it. I had FAST broadband at work, but at home with dialup I knew I couldn't look at youtube, flash sites would be slow, I couldn't send large pictures, it would grind to a halt if someone else had sent me a large attachment etc.

The better the internet connection the more services people will use. I don't use iView because my peak d/l cap is low and I'm not prepared to pay what my provider wants for a larger cap. If I could change ISP with a phonecall I'd be in a position to exercise more choice. As it is I'm locked into my FTTN broadband provider (TransACT), and to switch to another ISP on their network would be prohibitively expensive (they have a very outdated pricing structure). I can't get fast ADSL here (too far from an exchange, in suburban Canberra) and I don't even have an active phone line -- TransACT are my phone provider.

For me the transparency and ubiquity of the NBN cannot come soon enough.

Disclaimer: I do not work for any related company, hold no shares, am not a member of a political party. I'm a mug punter and I just want a decent service with some competition. Nothing you've said has convinced me that this won't be the case with the NBN.

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