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ACCC reaffirms consumer protections for copper switch off

With Telstra's legacy copper network set to switch off in 15 regions around Australia, the ACCC has moved to reassure residents in these areas that there are protections in place to maintain telco services during the switch.


Telstra's copper network is being phased out as part of the ongoing rollout of the NBN, with 15 early-access regions losing their old telephone and broadband connections as of May 23, 2014. Residents and businesses are required to sign up for an NBN service in order to ensure the continuation of broadband and landline services.

With interest focused on the switchover locations before the deadline, the ACCC has issued a statement to "clarify that safeguards exist to protect consumers that are facing disconnection".

While Telstra's migration plan stipulates that copper services are switched off 18 months after the NBN becomes available in an area, the ACCC advised that there are exemptions in certain cases.

These include cases where residents have placed an order for NBN services but NBN Co has not completed the connection process, where specialised services are not supplied over the NBN (this largely applies to businesses) and where "premises have been added to the NBN rollout region within six months of the scheduled disconnection date".

The regions scheduled to be disconnected include parts of Armidale and Kiama (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.

According the ACCC, "Telstra and NBN Co have also agreed on additional safeguards to apply in these regions" including case management for individual customers. If the end-user does not wish to sign up to a new service and migrate to the NBN, then services will be disconnected.

ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said the Telstra and NBN Co were working to disconnect services "in a manner that reduces the risk of consumers and businesses losing services that they value during migration to the NBN".

"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," she said.