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NBN issues

NBN - confusion over copper disconnection

Telstra began disconnecting some NBN-connected communities from the copper network on 23 May, under provisions that allow for disconnection 18 months after the NBN has been in place.

The areas scheduled for disconnection were parts of Armidale and Kiama in New South Wales; Brunswick and South Morang in Victoria; Townsville, Queensland; Willunga, South Australia; and Deloraine, George Town, Kingston, Sorrell, St Helens and Triabunna in Tasmania.

Businesses and consumers in these areas will now have to rely exclusively on the new network for internet and phone services.

Yet research commissioned by iiNet has shown that 67% of adult Australians think connecting to the NBN is optional, and that they can keep their existing broadband connection if they so wish.

Although many businesses and consumers in these areas have already chosen to place an order for NBN services, others have not yet made a decision or have been unable to place an order for NBN services.

Safeguards in place

Following media reports leading up to the 23 May deadline, the ACCC released a statement clarifying that businesses and consumers who have not yet taken the leap in the NBN do have a safety net on which to fall back.

Under an agreed migration plan, Telstra is required to begin to disconnect premises in a region 18 months after NBN services become available in that region. However, the plan includes a number of exceptions, such as:

  • consumers and businesses have placed an order for NBN services but NBN Co has not completed the connection process;
  • particular services are not yet able to be supplied over the NBN (primarily specialist business services);
  • premises have been added to the NBN rollout region within six months of the scheduled disconnection date.

In addition, Telstra and NBN Co have agreed on other safeguards, in which Telstra and other service providers will case manage their customers, with services being disconnected if the end user doesn’t want to switch to the NBN.

“The ACCC welcomes Telstra and NBN Co working with service providers with a view to disconnecting services in a manner that reduces the risk of consumers and businesses losing services that they value during migration to the NBN,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

“Now is the time for consumers and businesses to decide whether they want to continue to use a home phone or fixed line internet service and contact their preferred provider to place an order for NBN services if they do.”

Consumer confusion

The iiNet research has shown that confusion over the switch to NBN services could leave many Australians facing compulsory cut-offs from the copper telephone network.

The report, Familiarity & Understanding of the NBN, also found that: half of those surveyed don’t know how to get the NBN connected; 41% had very little knowledge of the changes; and 8% had never heard of the NBN.

Rachael McIntyre, iiNet product manager, said the report’s findings were a surprise given that the $37 billion project was already four years into its build phase. “The biggest surprise was that more than two-thirds of these broadband users were not aware that moving to fibre is compulsory,” she said.

iiNet NBN survey results

By Jonathan Nally (26 May, 2014)

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