Telarus MD Jules Rumsey, whose company has over 95 percent business customers, said there needs to be more discussion about how the NBN will deliver a range of services to business customers that is appropriate in terms of service speed, service quality, the nature of quality-of-service arrangements and how business applications will be supported across the new network.
He believes the debate has been too focused on the NBN as a concept and what it will deliver generally, rather than specifically looking at what it will deliver for businesses.
"Any of the organisations servicing businesses --Telarus, Optus, AAPT, Primus, Macquarie etc -- will be concerned. We have three different modes of delivery of services to businesses; copper access, fibre that is [currently] in place, and wireless. So we've still got alternatives, but a large number of our services are delivered over copper access so we are keen to drive that debate.
"There are a lot of business customers out there that will be impacted in the event that the NBN moves forward, particularly under the structure that we've seen to date from Telstra where the existing copper access network would basically be taken apart or dismantled, removing direct copper between the exchange and the customer's premise in favour of the new FttN network.
"So there is a real need to have a serious think about what will happen to business customers that have been using services across the copper access network to date," he said.
Rumsey points to the boom in unified communications as a key example of a critical service the NBN must be able to guarantee a high level of service quality.
"There's plenty of commentary about the size of SME businesses in Australia and how critical they are to the economy...any issue in terms of nature of service quality, speed, performance under an NBN, if its going to be at the expense of existing services, could have a substantial impact on those businesses and the Australian economy."
Optus' director of regulatory affairs, Andrew Sheridan, said there hasn't been a lot of talk about business benefits of the NBN which largely reflects the government's gag order, but warns that it represents a large chunk of the Australian economy and meeting their needs is essential to the success of the new network.
"They are an important market of likely users of this network. When you put your business case forward you want to look at how you can maximize the use of the network and that is an important group of customers that you really want to make sure you are meeting their needs," he said.