ACCC approves Telstra's slimmed down, NBN pull-through alerts

Summary:The Australian competition watchdog has approved changes to Telstra's migration plan for the NBN that will cut down the outage notification time for customers connecting to the NBN.

Telstra will only have between two and four hours to alert ISPs of plans to disconnect a customer's copper connection in preparation of connecting the customer to the NBN under new migration plans accepted by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) today.

In 2012, NBN Co switched to an opt-out method of installing fibre to the premises across the country. To reduce the work involved, it developed  a "pull-through" method  that sees NBN Co disconnect the existing copper or hybrid fibre-coaxial (HFC) cables and attach them to a fibre cable that is then pulled through the existing conduit.

The copper or HFC services can then be reconnected if required, but NBN Co has said that the pull-through method is only to be used when NBN Co can't install the cable through the existing conduit any other way, and only once the customer in the premises has ordered an NBN service.

Telstra, as the wholesale network operator overseeing migration to the NBN, must obtain consent from the ISPs before using the pull-through method, and then advise the ISPs before the migration is about to occur.

The ACCC argued in December last year that the original time frame, of up to two business days, was far too long for any outage notification, and told Telstra to amend its migration plan to cut down the time it had to notify the ISP in advance of the disconnection.

Today, the ACCC announced that it had approved Telstra's migration measures in cases where the fibre needed to be pulled through the lead-in conduit from the street to the premises. Under the new proposal, Telstra will have between two and four business hours to notify the ISP of the outage to prepare for the migration.

"Telstra has now provided a firm commitment to notify wholesale customers as 'soon as reasonably practicable' — the two and four business hour timeframes represent an absolute deadline by which Telstra must provide notice," the ACCC said in its decision paper.

It comes as from tomorrow Telstra will begin disconnecting the copper network in Armidale, Kiama, Brunswick, South Morang, Townsville, Willunga, Deloraine, George Town, Kingston, Sorrell, St Helens, and Triabunna as part of the migration to the NBN.

The exact number of customers who have yet to switch over to the NBN has not been disclosed, but the ACCC said that the telcos, and NBN Co are visiting the areas to case manage those remaining who had yet to decide whether to switch to the NBN. Those that decided not to connect to the NBN will be disconnected from the copper network.

NBN Co's chief customer officer John Simon said today that the company was working to ensure no one would be uninformed about the switch off.

"We are working hard with the industry to ensure that no-one in these areas who wants the NBN is left behind," he said in a statement.

But a survey of 1,200 people commissioned by iiNet found that 67 percent of Australians believe that their existing fixed line connection would remain in place despite the NBN roll-out.

The survey also found that 8 percent of the population had not heard of the NBN project.

Topics: NBN, Australia, Telcos, Telstra

About

Armed with a degree in Computer Science and a Masters in Journalism, Josh keeps a close eye on the telecommunications industry, the National Broadband Network, and all the goings on in government IT.

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