Few businesses today could survive very long without Internet access and even fewer without a telephone service.
Whether you are using standard phone lines and an in-house PABX, or, as most do today, voice over IP and a cloud-based PABX, both Internet access and telephony are provided over the NBN: unless you are using an affordable alternative such as corporate fibre.
If your NBN service goes down, you will want it fixed ASAP, and the longer that takes the more pressure you'll be putting on your NBN service provider.
Trouble is, your NBN service provider is only selling the service so when things go wrong they are dependent on NBN Co to fix the problem. NBN Co's policy on this – its service level agreements – are set out in its Fact sheet: Enhanced Service Level Agreements.
So if you want to understand what is likely to happen in the event of a failure it's worth understanding this fact sheet, and asking your service provider what level of service they have signed up to because, not surprisingly, the quicker the response the more it costs.
For starters, all are constantly monitored so the service provider would be aware of a failure, or a problem, as soon or sooner than you.
Another common misconception about corporate fibre is that is its available only in CBDs, major industrial parks and major office buildings. In fact it's available in most suburbs of the major cities.
Furthermore, unless you are in the lucky minority to have an all-fibre NBN connection your NBN service will be dependent on old copper cabling from the node to your business, which could be 100’s of metres. This is not new copper but could be many years old and of uncertain quality.
To understand more about why an NBN connection could leave your business high and dry, here is the opening paragraph of the NBN fact sheet.
"If you have business critical data needs, we recommend you speak with your phone and internet provider about enhanced service level agreements (eSLAs) in place with your bundle or package.”
It goes on to say: "All of the wholesale products which NBN offers come with a standard service level agreement." So what exactly does that mean?
NBN Co’s standard level of service requires it to respond to service providers only within business hours and to commit to fault rectification by 5pm the following business day. That agreement will likely include some modest financial penalty on NBN Co if it fails to meet the deadline.
Each service provider will translate this SLA into the one it offers you, the end customer. But clearly, no service provider is going to offer a 24 x 7 response if NBN has committed only to providing business hours support.
If you want 24 x 7 support you will have to pay more and your service provider will, in turn, have to pay more for an enhanced SLA from NBN Co. The best NBN Co offers its service providers is 24 x 7 availability of support with a restoration time of four hours before which penalties would be incurred.
Service levels agreements aside, many organisations find that a single standard NBN service has insufficient capacity for both their voice and data traffic, so install two separate services. This might solve the problem but adds cost and complexity to their internal networking.
So, as with anything you buy it's a case of caveat emptor. But first of all, you need to know what questions to ask. Chances are your NBN retailer is working with the standard level of service. Maybe that is all you need, but you certainly need to know.