Telstra has been accused of switching off internet and phone services well before the 18-month NBN grace period, just months after households become ‘ready for service’.
When a home or business is declared “NBN ready” under the National Broadband Network (NBN), there is a subsequent 18-month migration window to allow time to move across to an NBN plan.
But some Australians have complained about losing their internet connection prematurely.
New South Wales resident Martin Gray told The New Daily that he woke one day a couple of months ago to find his internet wasn’t working.
“After calls to my service provider, three days later they figure out that Telstra had turned off my internet because I was in an NBN-eligible area,” he said.
“Not because I have NBN, not because NBN has been there for the required 18 months – more like three – they just cut it off, 15 months early and didn’t tell anyone.
“I know I have 18 months to choose an NBN plan, but I had no warning that I would lose my service after only three months.”
Mr Gray was without internet for about six days.
He said his family relies on the internet in many ways, and losing access was particularly hard on his wife who is studying for a university degree and has family overseas. His service provider lodged a formal complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO).
Mr Gray told The New Daily he was also aware of an elderly lady from the same town, near the Newcastle area, who had a similar experience.
The woman, who is almost 90, received no warning when Telstra cut off her phone line “against her will” a few months after NBN became available.
“They didn’t tell her. It just happened – without permission and without justification,” Mr Gray said.
“She has poor vision, can’t drive, and has trouble getting up and down the stairs. The first thing she would do in an emergency is call her neighbour.
“The whole thing was poorly handled. Telstra is shutting off other telcos’ services, and it’s not Telstra looking bad, it’s the other service providers.
“These are not isolated stories.”
Several people have vented similar frustrations in online forums and other social channels after having been prematurely switched offline.
“My ADSL server is down today and my ISP … claim Telstra has cut off the ADSL service because NBN is now available in my area,” one Reddit user wrote.
“All of this happened with zero notification from Telstra or my ISP.”
Telstra spokesman James Kelly confirmed with The New Daily that Australia’s largest telecommunications provider was required to wait 18 months after a premises was declared ‘ready for service’ before switching off existing internet or phone lines.
“The majority of local business and residents in a disconnection area will be well aware of the NBN switch-over, with Telstra customers receiving a number of notifications including letters, personal visits and phone calls from Telstra,” he said.
It did not wish to comment on the specific aforementioned cases without first being provided with further details.
Optus dodges NBN’s 18-month grace period
There are separate deals in place with Telstra and Optus regarding their respective networks.
While Telstra keeps its copper network operational for 18 months during the NBN migration window, Optus has adopted a shorter migration window for its HFC network.
It is authorised to deactivate its premises “within” 18 months of the NBN being completed. In other words, Optus is not required to give the full 18 months.
An Optus spokeswoman said it contacts customers and provides them with “90 days’ notice” to place an order with the NBN.
An NBN Co spokesman told The New Daily it encourages telcos to provide end-users adequate time to prepare for their move onto the NBN.