office The cost of switching to the NBN: How business downtime can add up fast

With its rollout well past the halfway point, your business has most likely heard of the NBN. This government-driven Internet project will redefine Internet service in Australia and provide critical infrastructure to companies across the country. 

Like any network changeovers, there will undoubtedly be some adjustment periods and downtime. Not only can Internet downtime cause tremendous pressure on business continuity, it will also jeopardise your brand reputation. 

So how do you prepare for the switch to the NBN, and what will it cost your business?

What Is the NBN?

The Australian National Broadband Network (NBN) is a nationwide high-speed broadband network that's being developed and built by the government-owned corporation NBN Co. to deliver Internet to all homes, offices, and government facilities in Australia. Originally started in April 2009, NBN is expected to complete rollout by 2020.

The switch to NBN is not an automatic process once service becomes available in your area. In fact, many businesses and consumers are being caught out by important considerations including which providers to go with, the type of infrastructure and an NBN plan suitable for your business.

Once NBN rollout is established in your area, all of the following will cease to work:

  • Landline phone services that use Telstra (or any company using Telstra's lines)

  • ALL ADSL, ADSL2, and ADSL2+ Internet service from every provider

  • BigPond Internet services

  • Optus Internet and phone services

It can take up to a month before you're connected to NBN, which is not an ideal position for any business to be stuck in.

The Real Business Costs of the NBN Switch

According to Gartner, the average cost of IT downtime is $5,600 per minute. Large organisations admit that every hour of downtime costs them over $100,000. For smaller Australian businesses (those with less than 200 employees), downtime costs an average of $2,000 per hour. For most businesses that rely on the Internet, a total Internet blackout would disrupt every aspect of your business. Sales teams would have no one to contact, SaaS contracts would waste away, marketers won't be able to access marketing and CRM platforms to drive profits, and no communication with your customers and vendors.


The maximum amount of time your Internet could be down during the switch to NBN is 8 weeks - that's over 80,000 minutes! Let's look at some of the ways that loss of internet access can have a detrimental effect on your brand.

    • No customer support: Being disconnected from the phone or Internet virtually eliminates communication to your customers. This means an inability to answer customer questions, address customer issues, or deal with negative feedback. In other words, it's a PR nightmare. 68% of customers will never return to a business after a single bad experience. Think about how many negative experiences will happen without the Internet or phone for a month.

    • No more leads: No Internet or phone means no sales. Whether you're chasing that new client, trying to convert that valuable lead, or simply trying to generate more leads with outbound strategies, you may be left in the dark for a few weeks during the switch. That's a ton of lost potential revenue.

    • Goodbye marketing: Not only do you lose access to all of those rich leads, but you also lose your ability to generate additional leads. Without the Internet, you won't have access to the marketing stack, which means no digital ad campaigns will be live.

    • Wasted SaaS: If you purchase licenses for SaaS, IT equipment or subscription-based applications, you'll be losing money the entire time your Internet is down.

    • Data integrity: Losing access to the Internet renders your data vulnerable to threat actors. Your digital safety solutions won't be online - leaving your entire data network unprotected. Plus, your data may be a victim to loss, deletion, corruption, as well as become outdated during your downtime.

    • Legal implications: Many businesses have Service Level Agreements (SLA) with other companies, or they may have partnerships that require a constant flow of data. During an outage, you may not be able to deliver on those promises. This can end with you in court battling a case.

    • Reputation damage: Finally, the single most valuable component of your business could be jeopardised - your reputation. Walker predicts that branding will overtake both price and product as the key determiner for businesses by next year. Brand damage is by far the most expensive type of loss. Being unable to connect with, sell to, or enable customers during your outage will damage your brand, losiing customer trust and ultimately, their loyalty.

NBN outages are more common than you think. According to The NBN Consumer Experience: Residential Research Snapshot, over 40% of SMEs experienced an outage during their switch to the NBN. And, over 15% of them experience no Internet for a month during the transition!