New Zealand small business is on the edge of a new era. Ultra-fast broadband is changing the way those companies that receive it do business.
For much the same cost businesses will get two telephone lines for the cost of one, up to 60 times the committed data and upstream data and 7-10 times the downstream data. The catch is that not all businesses can have it now. They need to wait until the new optical fibre cables that are being laid the length and breadth of New Zealand reach the door of their businesses.
When it does arrive, they'll be able to use use ultra-fast broadband in many different ways. Some of them haven't even been discovered yet. One obvious one is that they will be able to replace costly servers and other hardware with cloud-based storage and software applications.
Multiple users and devices can also operate simultaneously, says Lynne Le Gros, head of marketing, business, at Telecom, without impacting broadband performance or speed. That saves time and money. There will be better co-ordination across multiple sites and remote working by staff will become much easier.
Some businesses are chomping at the bit to get ultra-fast broadband, others have no idea how it could help them. Yet it's not just tech-savvy businesses that will benefit. Most businesses will benefit from faster email and web pages. Others at the cutting edge of technology will milk ultra-fast broadband for huge productive gains.
Hamilton-based Marathon-Photos.com, for example, has almost doubled in size since it got ultra-fast broadband. In the past it took days to load photographs from sports events that the company photographed. The time lag meant the euphoria of the event had passed and individual athletes were less likely to pay for images of themselves competing. These days the upload happens in hours and an athlete can buy images the very next day.
What's more, MarathonPhotos.com can now upload to its site bandwidth-heavy personalised movies incorporating generic images from the event, video of the athlete at certain points and the finish line, and a slide-show of still photos. With thousands of athletes competing in any one event, such huge uploads were slow and cumbersome using old-style broadband.
Even flower growers are looking forward to the introduction of ultra-fast broadband to communicate with exporters, who in turn have 200-300 customers around the world, says David Ballow, owner of New Zealand Bloom Limited.
"The growers need to communicate with us so we can understand what stage their crops are at and we need to communicate with customers in New York, Hong Kong, (and elsewhere) who are looking for a certain quality or variety," says Ballow.
Because most growers are in rural areas it is difficult currently for them to email large images of their crops in a timely manner. They will be connected under the government's Rural Broadband Initiative.
Cold Storage Nelson has transformed the way it does business thanks to ultra-fast broadband. In the past shipments of fruit and other produce were tracked on paper and whiteboards. Ultra-fast broadband means that is computerised now and the real time whereabouts of every single carton is known to both the company and its suppliers.
International economic studies show strong links between ultra-fast broadband growth and rapid economic development. More information about that can be found here.
• Businesses and customers interested in finding out more about fibre can register for updates at: http://www.telecom.co.nz/whatsnew/fibre/
• Just how fast your business runs is easy to test by visiting this page on Telecom's website. www.telecom.co.nz/fibre