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Deadline looms as first copper-to-NBN switch approaches

​Fifteen Australian towns are farewelling the country's century-old copper network as the first NBN switchover takes place, but residents still need to act to avoid losing communications altogether.

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Image by Sam_Catch, CC BY-ND 2.0

The switchover -- which will see the NBN will replace most existing landline home and business phones, ADSL internet and Telstra cable internet services in 15 regional hubs nationwide -- is scheduled for Friday, May 23, 2014.

Sites across five states will be switched, including Armidale, Minnamurra and Kiama Downs in New South Wales; South Morang and Brunswick in Victoria; Townsville, Aitkenvale and Mundingburra in Queensland; Willunga in South Australia; and Deloraine, George Town, Kingston Beach, Sorell, St Helens and Triabunna in Tasmania.

But while the new infrastructure is available to the residents of these towns, an NBN Co spokesperson has warned that "the move to the NBN is not automatic" and that residents need to take steps to be connected to the new network.

"Homes and business owners who want to keep using landline phone and internet services must place an order with their preferred phone company or internet service provider as soon as possible," the spokesperson "Alternatively some may choose to make do with mobile or other wireless solutions."

Importantly, there is no guarantee that residents in these towns will still be connected after the Friday cut-off, potentially leaving those who have not organised a switchover out in the cold.

"As long as an order has been received before the 23 May 2014 for the first 15 areas, they should not be disconnected," the spokesperson said.

In addition to traditional phone and internet connections, other services will be affected by the switch.

"NBN Co is urging people with special equipment including EFTPOS terminals and medical and security alarms which operate using a landline phone connection to check with their preferred service provider about moving these services across to the NBN," the spokesperson said.

In addition, buildings with an emergency lift phone also need to be registered with NBN Co so that these services can be identified.

NBN Co has put together a tool for residents to check whether their address is eligible for an NBN connection, as well as a checklist for the switch and a list of service providers that can facilitate new connections.

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