Like most Australian small businesses, telephone and internet connections are central to the backbone of your pharmacy business. They drive your business and pharmacy practice activities; your communication with partners, patients and suppliers and are key to ensuring your staff can operate effectively.
That’s why it's important your pharmacy is prepared as the National Broadband Network (NBN) is rolled out across the country. It’s important to understand what is happening so that you can get ready to make the transition in the smoothest way possible.
The following guide provides more detailed information about the NBN and the technologies required to support its roll-out including links and references to key information sources that will assist your pharmacy’s transition to the NBN.
Check your address to see when Australia's new broadband network is available at your premises.
The NBN is a Multi Technology Mix (MTM) and therefore it will be delivered differently in different places. Fibre optic cables are being installed throughout the country to replace old copper wires that currently provide phone and broadband connections for homes and businesses. In most cases, existing wires will be removed, in others, they will be used differently. For rural and remote locations where installation of fibre optics is impractical, broadband will be supplied via NBN Fixed Wireless or NBN Satellite.
NBN Fibre is expected to reach approximately 65% of Australian households, offices and businesses, while 8% of the country will depend on Fixed Wireless and NBN satellite. For the rest, NBN co. will use co-axial fibre developed by cable television companies to transfer broadband into homes (note: to date, no premises are connected this way). These projections have changed since the NBN rollout began, and continue to change weekly.
Basically, consumers and businesses have no choice which type of NBN they will get, but NBN Co. will use what they believe is the best technology based on the location of your business with the objective being to reach the entire country through a mix of these different technologies to give homes, offices and businesses access to high-speed Internet and enhanced phone services.
Below is an explanation of each type in detail.
Types of NBN connection
It is important to know the difference between the five ways the NBN could be delivered to your business because it can influence the type of changes you need to make to ensure your transition to the NBN is a successful one.
There are BIG differences in how your phone and internet will work with the NBN, depending on which type of NBN you have installed so early preparation is for a smooth transition.
While it is more than likely that your business will be utilising one of the two fibre optic delivery systems mentioned below, it is crucial that you know for certain, so that you can plan ahead and save time and money.
Fibre optic NBN
Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)
In general terms, Fibre to The Premises is a system where super-fast fibre-optic cable carries the broadband signal from your provider (such as Infiniti) all the way to a connection box inside your premises. On the way, it passes through nodes (a box in your area that contains network equipment that supplies your area), which act as midway connection points between your office and the local telephone exchange.
If you have FTTP, a technician will install a Network Termination Device (NTD) inside your premises. The NTD can be used to connect your telephone line (and will be discussed in the next section). You will have some additional options for replacing your phone lines.
At the moment, FTTP is a given for new developments that do not already have any telecommunications infrastructure in place. However, it will also be installed in other areas where it is the most cost-effective solution. Existing copper wires will be removed, so your pharmacy’s existing services will no longer work once the NBN rollout is completed in your area.
Fibre to the Node (FTTN)
Fibre to the Node technology, as the name suggests, involves the fibre optic cable carrying the broadband connection to the nearest node to your business. From the node, the broadband connection is delivered to your premises by “hitching a ride” on the existing copper wiring, rather than fibre optic cables.
This means that you won’t have an NTD installed in your premises, but will connect to the NBN using a router over the existing copper cables going into your premises. This also means that your existing services will not work once the NBN has been installed in your area.
You will have to replace your internet, phone lines, and everything that has used your wall phone outlet in the past.
Fibre to the Building (FTTB)
FTTB is for multi-dwelling premises such as high rises and apartment buildings and works in a similar way to FTTN. The difference is that, instead of the fibre optic cables stopping at a public node, they stop at a communications room in the basement of the building. After that, the broadband connection is carried to individual apartments or offices via the existing copper infrastructure inside the building.
Like FTTN, FTTB will use a router that is plugged into your existing phone line socket but this doesn’t mean it will work in the same way it used to. Every service you currently use will need to be replaced.
Fibre to the Home vs. Fibre to the Node
Fibre to the Curb (FTTC)
FTTC will see the NBN fibre delivered all the way to the telecom pit outside a premises where the fibre then connects with a small Distribution Point Unit (DPU) that then uses the existing copper line to deliver fast broadband to the premises over a (usually) relatively short distance.
This has two main advantages: firstly, because NBNCo will use the existing copper line where possible, and won’t usually have to dig a new lead-in conduit to run a line into the premises – saving significant time and money.
Secondly, because the DPUs are reverse-powered from the end-user premises, NBNCo also save the expense of designing and implementing new physical connections to the power grid, as we have to do for a regular FTTN Cabinet – again saving significant time and money.
Hybrid Fibre Coaxial
Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) is used in circumstances where the existing ‘pay TV’ or cable network can be used to reach your premises. In this circumstance a HFC line will be run from the nearest available fibre node, to the premises.
HFC connections require an nbn™ network device to be installed at the point where the HFC line enters your home. This device requires power to operate, and can be installed by an approved nbn™ installer or service provider.
Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC)
Fixed Wireless NBN
The NBN Fixed Wireless network will provide access to broadband services to a specific number of premises within a coverage area using LTE or 4G technology - just like the mobile data you get on your handheld devices through your mobile service provider, only faster and more consistent and is only available to a specific number of premises within an area (i.e. not just anybody can access it).
NBN Co advise that the NBN Fixed Wireless Network will use LTE / 4G technology, and therefore this would appear to be the same as mobile wireless technology.
NBN Co explain that the key difference between NBN Fixed Wireless and Mobile Wireless is:
NBN connects a single type of device whereas a mobile wireless connects to multiple devices
- NBN service is provided to a fixed number of premise connections whereas mobile wireless may connect variable number of devices, and
- NBN will service a fixed cell boundary (coverage area) whereas mobile wireless cell boundaries may vary.
Each premise that is connected to NBN Fixed Wireless will have a receiving antenna installed by a technician from NBN Co, as well as an NTD inside the premises. At this stage, existing infrastructure will not be removed, so you can continue to use your current services, if you wish.
The NBN Sky MusterTM satellite service was named by remote Australian students who will benefit from having access to broadband internet. Where FTTN and Fixed Wireless are logistically impossible, the satellite service will take effect, notably in central and northern Australia, Tasmania and remote islands. Again, there will be an NTD installed in the premises, but it will look slightly different to that which is installed in FTTP premises.
You can continue to use your current phone and internet services in this case, because existing infrastructure will not be removed.
Note: you don’t have to have the NBN to use a Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) service.
The NBN Connection Box (NTD) for FTTP Users
If your premises will have FTTP, a Network Termination Device (NTD) will connect your business to the NBN wiring on your premises. It is one of three (Yes - three!) devices that NBN Co. will most likely install.
The NTD depicted below is only relevant to FTTP Users.
Fixed Wireless and Satellite users will not have grey Voice (UNI-V) Ports.
FUN and FTTB users will not have an NTD installed at all.
The Battery Backup Unit
When your NTD is installed, there will also be a Battery Backup Unit installed beside it.
With this unit, if you experience a loss of mains power, your NTD will continue to work for approximately 5 hours.
It is recommended that you have a mobile phone with data (for WiFi) so if the cable is cut or damaged, the pharmacy can still connect to the internet via that connection.
The VDSL Router for FTTN and FTTB Users
If you are having Fibre to the Node or Fibre to the Building installed in your premises, you will not have an NTD installed. Instead, you will connect to your NBN connection by using a VDSL router.
You will not be able to use your old ADSL router, because it cannot carry an NBN connection. AND you should not purchase a VDSL router before talking to your provider.
The router you use will have to be approved by and registered with NBN Co.
When you have FTTN installed, you will be able to plug your approved VDSL router into the existing wall socket in your office, however, you can’t use a splitter in order to connect a phone (as you may have done with your ADSL connection). This means that you will need to consider your options for phone lines on the NBN.
For a small business, making the switch to the NBN can be a challenging prospect, especially considering that it affects so many areas of your business.
The main aspects of a pharmacy’s business that will be affected by the NBN include:
-Phone lines and calls
-Office phone system
-Security systems, and
The NBN will affect everything about your business communications and the implications are no small matter.
Why the NBN will affect your business
As mentioned earlier, the mandatory NBN rollout is replacing all of the existing telecommunications infrastructure across the country. This means that the majority of your pharmacy’s existing services and technology will not work over the NBN network without proper planning and preparation.
In many cases, the cables that currently run your pharmacy’s phone lines and internet connection are essentially being ripped out and replaced. This means that everything that is connected to them, such as your phone system, EFTPOS terminals and fax machines, will no longer work as they currently do.
Just like the introduction of the GST, the NBN is not a choice.
Phone calls and the NBN
Most of the talk around the NBN has been to do with internet speeds and faster downloads. But what many do not know is that for the average Australian small business, the biggest win of the NBN should be a reduced phone bill.
As mentioned earlier, the NBN Fibre rollout is replacing the majority of traditional copper wires in the ground that provide the current phone lines and services across the country. This means that current phone lines will need to be replaced with an NBN-compatible voice-service.
What technology is staying and what is going
ISDN will stay live and active
Your business may currently utilise Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) to run your PBX or EFTPOS terminal, and these networks will stay live and active after the NBN is rolled out. However, because the NBN rollout is changing all the time, and it may not be too long before NBN Co. decides that ISDN lines will go, too.
The Disconnection Date of 30 September 2019 is applicable to all premises with ISDN services residing within ‘Rollout Regions’ (https://www.nbnco.com.au/learn-about-the-nbn/rollout-map.html) whose Disconnection Date has or will pass prior to the 30 September 2019 date.
Where the ISDN service resides at a premise whose Rollout Region Disconnection Date is beyond 30 September 2019, then the timeline for disconnection of the ISDN services will align with the applicable Rollout Region.
PSTN lines are being cancelled
With the rollout of Fibre NBN, the vast majority of the Public Switch Telephone Networks (PSTN) will be switched off or made redundant. These are the traditional, copper landline phone lines that we have all used for a very long time, the same lines you’ve been using for your internet, phone, fax, EFTPOS, security system, and HICAPS terminal - that is a huge part of the vital organs of your business at risk if you don’t prepare well ahead of time.
Telstra is legally required to switch off remaining fixed line services in accordance with Government policy at the end the 18 month migration window. You will get a notice from your provider, and one from NBN Co, but there’s no guaranteeing how much notice will be given – the risk is, if you are not ready well ahead of time, that you find your pharmacy without your existing services before your NBN service is installed.
You can act now by having an assessment/audit for your pharmacy and there are several providers who provide this service - it could be worthwhile investment, compared to the potential loss your business will experience if you aren’t ready to make the switch.
The following is a summary at how phone services will work with the NBN.
FTTN / B / C
The following advice is provided for your information. The options are listed in no particular order of priority or preference. It’s recommended that you select the option which is most relevant to your pharmacy.
Option 1: The Voice (UNI-V) Port (only available for FTTP users)
If you review the NTD diagram (page 9), you will see the two grey ports on the left hand side of the image. If you’re going to get Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) at your business, you will have an NTD that looks like this one installed inside your office. The two grey Voice (UNI-V) Ports are where you can simply plug in your old analogue telephone and start making and receiving phone calls as usual. But before you can do this, you will need to have your UNI-V
Port enabled via your preferred supplier.
For households, this is the simple and sensible solution to making calls once you have made the switch to the NBN. For businesses, however, it’s usually a little more complicated.
For more information visit:
Option 2: VoIP/SIP for IP-enabled devices
Before providing details about this option, it’s important to have a general understanding of what VoIP and SIP mean.
What is VoIP?
VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol and is a broad term that covers any phone call that is made using an internet connection. VoIP calls use the internet to digitally transit a voice signal to another telephone. Skype, WhatsApp and IP enabled PBX phone systems all utilise VoIP technology.
What are SIP and SIP trunks?
SIP stands for Session Initiation Protocol and is perfectly designed for office phone systems. SIP trunks are packets of information that are “sent out” over your internet connection. With the high speeds of NBN broadband, SIP trunks are a viable and reliable phone solution for businesses who are connected to the NBN - they allow you to do away with expensive phone line rental (whether you have a choice in the matter or not), they will also reduce your phone bill with cheaper call rates.
What is an IP-enabled phone?
Any IP-enabled device (phone, fax, EFTPOS, etc.) is simply any device that can send and receive information over the internet, rather than using a traditional landline phone line. The terms IP-enabled, SIP-enabled and VoIP-enabled generally refer to the same kinds of technology.
It is important to note that a license is required in order to access and use SIP trunks, so it’s important to consider assessing your needs to find out how your phone system and devices will work with SIP trunks.
How to make calls using an IP-enabled phone
Your IP-enabled phone simply connects by plugging into one of the 4 Yellow Data (UNI-D) Ports that you’ll find either on your NID or your VDSL router.
Option 3: VoIP/SIP using an ATA
If you don’t have IP-enabled phones, you do not have to purchase new ones (despite what many telco salesmen may tell you) - a much cheaper ATA comes in to breathe life into your old hardware.
What is an ATA?
ATA stands for Analog Telephone Adapter and is a box that connects to a Data (UNI-D) Port on your NID or VDSL router on one side and your existing telephone hardware on the other. It will translate the analogue data into digital data that can be sent over your broad band connection*.
As mentioned, when it comes to small business phone systems, SIP trunks are considered a good option - to make calls over the NBN; save money on high line rental charges and reduce the cost of calls.
Phone systems connect to SIP in the same way as a single phone does; directly using your SIP-enabled phone system (if you already have one) or via an ATA.
SIP and your existing phone system
While your current phone system can be made to work with SIP trunks using your NBN connection, there may be some additional steps involved, depending on the type of phone system you are currently using.
The best thing to do is discuss your existing setup with your current provider and find out what steps would be involved to make the switch to SIP or include this in an assessment/audit for your NBN needs.
Best practice advice
As mentioned above, the calls your business will make over the NBN SIP trunks are “sent” out over your broadband internet connection. As a result, the quality and clarity of your voice calls depends on your connection having consistent and reliable bandwidth.
In order to ensure this is the case for your business, it is recommended you consider getting a second connection that is dedicated purely to your voice traffic and this is why both NTD’s and VDSL routers have 4 Yellow Data (Uni-D) Ports; so that you can have up to 4 separate NBN connections. Talk to your chosen service provider about getting a dedicated connection for your phone system.
Fax machines and NBN connections
There are many pharmacies that have more then one fax machine.
Before we go on, we will just remind you that Fixed Wireless and Satellite areas will not have the existing infrastructure removed. This means that if you choose to, you can continue using your FAX as you currently do.
Again, we will focus here on FTTP, FTTN and FTTB NBN connections.
Option 1: Using the Voice (UNI-V) Ports (available to FTTP users only)
If you have FTTP installed, you can easily connect your fax machine to one of the grey Voice (UNI-V) Ports on the NTD that will be installed inside your premises. However, because there are only two ports you may need to consider alternatives to ensure that all devices in your office will work properly once you’ve made the switch.
Option 2: Using VoIP/SIP for IP-enabled fax machines
If you currently use an IP-enabled fax machine, you can continue to send and receive faxes using your broadband connection. Whether you have an NTD installed in your office or are using a VDSL router, you will simply connect your fax machine cable to one of the 4 Yellow Data (UNI-D) Ports.
If you don’t have an IP-enabled fax machine, you don’t have to rush out and purchase one.
Option 3: VoIP/SIP using an ATA
When you switch to the NBN, you won’t have to send existing analogue fax machine into retirement. Although it isn’t IP-enabled, you can get an Analogue Telephone Adapter (ATA) that will convert the information into digital data that can be sent and received using your broadband connection.
Not only is the type of EFTPOS terminal you use an important consideration when switching to the NBN, so too is the type of NBN your business will be receiving. So let’s take a look at the types of EFTPOS terminals. At the moment, there are three main ways in which businesses use EFTPOS:
1.Mobile - uses mobile data and is transportable
2.Countertop Wireless - uses mobile data and Wi-Fi and stays in a single location, and
3.Fixed Line - uses a phone line to make transactions and stays in a single location.
Mobile EFTPOS takes advantage of Wireless GPRS or 4G mobile communication and does not require a landline phone line in order to complete transactions between your business and the bank. They operate using a sim card that communicates with the mobile network used by your EFTPOS service provider. Mobile EFTPOS terminals will still function as normal, with or without a switch to the NBN.
Like Mobile EFTPOS, Countertop EFTPOS can utilise GPRS communication. However, because these terminals are used in a fixed premises, most businesses also utilise their wireless internet connection to make transactions and countertop Wireless EFTPOS terminals do not require a phone line to send transactions.
A business’ main concern with these terminals is to ensure they connect and function properly with the broadband connection. It is therefore recommend that you test this out BEFORE you disconnect your old service, just in case it doesn’t work immediately.
Fixed Line EFTPOS
Fixed Line EFTPOS terminals require a phone line in order to complete transactions. This means that, when you switch to the NBN, you need to ensure that your terminal will still function properly. And this is the type of EFTPOS terminal that needs your careful consideration.
What are the options for Fixed Line EFTPOS terminals?
Option 1: Using the Voice (UNI-V) Ports (available to FTTP users only).
If you have an NTD with Voice (UNI-V) Ports, you have the option of plugging your EFTPOS terminal into one of these ports. It sounds easy enough, but remember, there are only two! That’s why this option may not be practical for your business.
If you do want to use these Voice (UNI-V) Ports, make sure you have them activated by your chosen provider as they do not function as a default.
Option 2: Using VoIP/SIP for IP-enabled EFTPOS Terminals
If you currently use VoIP/IP services to make transactions with your EFTPOS terminal, it means that it is IP-enabled and will continue to work once you switch to an NBN connection. Your EFTPOS terminal will simply plug into one of the Yellow Data (UNI-D) Ports on your NTD or VDSL router.
It is recommended that you to talk to your EFTPOS provider to find out if your terminal is ‘lP-enabled’.
Option 3: VoIP/SIP using an ATA
Most fixed line EFTPOS terminals are analogue devices, which means they can’t send and receive information using an internet connection. However, an ATA can be purchased that will convert the analogue signals into digital data that can be sent using your NBN connection – see page 12 for more information about ATA’s.
It is important to note that many EFTPOS providers actually offer to upgrade your Fixed Line EFTPOS terminal to a VoIP/IP-enabled terminal free of charge when you switch to the NBN - talk to your EFTPOS provider to find out if they are one of them.
If you are unsure in any way, contact your EFTPOS provider for the most relevant advice.
HICAPS terminals process medical claims and submit refunds by communicating with Medicare, private health funds and banks. The options for your HICAPS terminal are similar to those for EFTPOS.
Types of HICAPS terminal
The most common HICAPS terminal dials a 1800-number to make transactions and requires a landline phone line in order to process claims.
More recently, HICAPS have released a VolP/lP-enabled terminal that uses your internet to process claims.
Another recent release is the Mobile HICAPS terminal but, unfortunately, it only supports a limited number of funds.
The type of HICAPS terminal your business uses will influence your options for connecting with the NBN.
Option 1: Using the Voice (UNI-V) Ports (available to FTTP users only)
You can (technically) use one of your Voice (UNI-V) Ports for your HICAPS terminal. We say “technically” because there are only two ports and it may not be practical in a business that needs phone lines, EFTPOS, fax and HICAPS.
So, while you may use the Voice (UNI-V) Port for your HICAPS terminal, you will probably need to find another solution to run all of the additional devices your business needs.
Remember that the Voice (UNI-V) ports are not automatically connected and you need to request to have them activated by your service provider.
Option 2: Using VoIP/SIP for IP-enabled HICAPS terminals
If you currently use VoIP/IP services to make transactions with your HICAPS terminal, it means that it is already an IP-enabled terminal. It will continue to work once your business has switched to an NBN connection, by simply plugging into one of the Yellow Data (UNI-D) Ports on your NTD or VDSL router.
It is crucial that you contact HICAPS to find out if your terminal is IP-enabled and find out if you need an upgrade.
Option 3: VoIP/SIP using an ATA
If you have an analogue HICAPS terminal that relies on a landline phone line to make claims, the only way you can connect it to your broadband connection is through an ATA.
The ATA will convert the analogue data into digital data that can be transferred using the internet.
Be sure to contact HICAPS to talk about upgrading to a IP-enabled terminal.
If you have a security alarm system installed in your business, there’s a good chance that it uses a landline phone line to communicate with a security monitoring centre when the alarm is triggered. Again, there are three main options for switching your security system to the NBN and the type of system you have will determine which option is best for your business.
Option 1: Using the Voice (UNI-V) Ports (available to FTTP users only)
If you will be connected to FTTP NBN, you will be able to connect your existing security system to your broadband connection using the Voice (UNI-V) Port on your NTD.
However, not all security panels will be compatible with the Voice (UNI-V) Port, so it is important to check with the provider of your security system first. It is also important to remember that the Voice (UNI-V) Port is not activated by default and you will need to talk to your chosen provider.
Option 2: Using VoIP/SIP for IP-enabled Security Systems
If your security system currently uses an internet connection to communicate with the control centre, it is IP-enabled and you will be able to run it using your NBN connection.
You will simply connect your security panel to one of the Yellow Data (UNI-D) Ports, either on either your NTD or your VDSL router.
Option 3: VoIP/SIP using an ATA
You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a new security system if your existing security system will be able to send data over the internet.
If you don’t want to upgrade, most security system providers now offer wireless alarm and security systems, which simply use your internet connection wirelessly and do not require a phone line to communicate with the security monitoring centre.
Get the right advice from the right people - contact your security system provider about what the NBN will mean for your security system.
The heart of the NBN is broadband internet. It will carry all of our communications in the future, when the old infrastructure has been removed. Here’s a look at how the internet will work with each of the different types of NBN:
NBN internet services are divided into tiers, each tier being defined by different download and upload speeds (bandwidth). This way, users have the flexibility to choose that best suits their needs.
Following are the speeds made available to NBN Retail Service Providers (RSPs), however, the speeds that are made available to ‘end-customers’ should be investigated with individual RSPs. Actual real world speeds can be very different to the best case scenario speeds suggested by NBN Co and are dependent on the technology the service is on.
You need to assess the needs of your pharmacy and understand the associated costs.
The five tiers are as follows:
Not all service providers can offer all speed tiers, so it is important you check before signing up.
Before making the decision about which NBN data service you’ll have in your office, it’s important to think about how you currently use your internet, and how you’d like to use in the future.
Being prepared for the NBN
As you’ve probably figured out by now, the NBN isn’t simple, and it’s not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ technology. There are several factors that will determine how YOUR pharmacy will be affected when you make the switch. From the cabling and the type of router you have, to the way you make your phone calls - there’s a lot of changes in play.
It’s not an overreaction to be a little apprehensive about how it will work for your business, nor is it foolish to take every step possible well in advance.
Unless you are an NBN genius, it’s probably going to get confusing and complicated and therefore getting an NBN ready assessment/audit can be a sensible solution.
Having a dedicated Voice-Data service
If you are going to use a VoIP/SIP service when you switch to the NBN, you will need to consider making sure your data service can carry both your general internet use, and your phone calls. If you haven’t used SIP to run your PBX system in the past, it’s important to get the balance right.
In some cases, a single data service will be adequate in managing both your general internet use and your phone system. However, the only way to guarantee that your SIP calls will never be interrupted by a large file download or streaming video is to have two data services - one for your internet use, and one for your SIP service.
The Rollout (Step 1)
When NBN Co. is installing technology in your area, you probably won’t even notice. It will all be going on as you go about your daily life, and the first thing you’ll hear about it will be…………..
The Letter (Step 2)
When the NBN is available in your area, you’ll receive a letter from NBN Co, and most likely from your provider. You might also get several more, from other providers, hoping that you’ll sign up for their NBN services. The NBN Co. letter is probably the most important, because it is going to tell you when your existing services will be switched off. However they have up to 18 months to let you know, BUT they don’t have to let you know as soon as possible. You may have over a year to prepare, or you might find a letter in your mailbox with a two month deadline!
Installation (Step 3)
Now the ball is in your court, and you have to contact your chosen provider to order an NBN installation at your business. Your provider does not choose the date of installation. They contact NBN co, place your order, and then they’ll be informed of the date and time a technician will come to your premises. The wait for installation is generally between 10 and 30 days, but it can be longer. Obviously, you’d be cutting a fine line if you were to wait until one month before switch-off to call your provider. But here’s why you should definitely not do that...