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Thursday, 22 May 2014 12:54

Towns set to lose phone access as NBN takes over Featured


A number of Australian towns are set to have their copper networks switched off tomorrow as part of the switch to the NBN, yet a study has shown they're largely unaware.

The ageing copper network will be switched off in the first areas to receive NBN fibre -areas affected by the copper switch-off include Armidale, Minnamurra and Kiama Downs in NSW; Brunswick and South Morang in Victoria; Aitkenvale, Mundingburra and Townsville in Queensland; Willunga in SA; and Deloraine, George Town, Kingston Beach, Sorell, St Helens and Triabunna in Tasmania.

On Thursday the ACCC reassured customers however that Telstra's contract would provide continuity of service until October 2014.

ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said the watchdog "wishes to clarify that safeguards exist to protect consumers that are facing disconnection".

"Under these revised arrangements, Telstra and other service providers are to case-manage their end users over the next six months, with end-user services being disconnected over that period where the end user does not wish to migrate to the NBN," she said.

"Consequently, end users will have an additional opportunity to order an NBN service and keep their copper and HFC services until the NBN service is activated. However, they should place their order as soon as they are able to do so."

NBN Co said exceptions will be made for premises that rely on services that can't yet be delivered over the NBN, while in March the government-run company launched an online service that allowed households with medical alarms that relied on the copper network to register their information.

iiNet today released the results of research commissioned by the ISP, which found most people were unaware of the copper switch-off.

The survey, conducted in April by Hall & Partners Open Mind, found that 67% of those surveyed believed that they would be able to keep their existing broadband connection when the NBN was rolled out in their area.

iiNet Product Manager, Rachael McIntyre, said the report’s finding were surprising 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.

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO, Michael Bailey, told a February hearing of the Senate inquiry into the NBN that delays in hooking up businesses in the state had generated concerns about the deadline for migrating to the fibre network.

"[C]ertainly in some of our regional areas there is concern about copper being removed and what that will mean to [businesses'] access to things like security systems and faxes and so forth," he said.

“The overwhelming majority of people in the affected areas have made the switch to the NBN over the 18 months since the countdown began and are enjoying the benefits of fast broadband,” NBN Co chief customer officer John Simon said in a statement.

“[W]e are working hard with the industry to ensure that no-one in these areas who wants the NBN is left behind,” the NBN Co executive said.

As we reported earlier Telstra's Migration plan for NBN customers has just been given the green light by the ACCC.

The next round of copper switch offs will happen in July, by which time hopefully more people are aware of them.

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