NBN Co readies first copper disconnects

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NBN Co readies first copper disconnects

NBN Co has unveiled plans to disconnect copper and cable broadband services at 15 of the first fibre rollout areas by May 2014 as it moves to migrate customers off Telstra's fixed networks.

The network operator plans to begin a public information campaign in the selected areas — some of the first to get NBN fibre connections as part of the rollout — as it counts down 18 months until most copper services in fibre-connected areas are switched off.

A total of 25,000 premises are expected to be affected by the move, which was a part of the $9 billion agreement between Telstra and NBN Co.

Telstra will receive some $4 billion in user payments as it migrates copper and cable customers off its own broadband and fixed phone line services in fibre-connected areas, as those areas receive NBN connections and are deemed "ready for service".

NBN Co has manually chosen a switch-off date for the first 15 sites, as well as approximately 60 other areas built before the company completed agreements with Telstra that enable the automatic switch-off of existing copper or cable services in NBN areas.

NBN Co's head of product management and industry relations, Jim Hassell, said future sites would have an "automatic trigger" from the disconnection timeframe.

The first switch-off areas do not include the three initial trial sites in Tasmania, which are still considered a separate part of the network until later this year.

The 18-month timeframe also includes exceptions for business-grade copper services like ISDN and frame-relay, which will be disconnected after three years instead, according to Hassell.

Those areas that are slated for switch-off however, will receive a hard date for the switch-off.

NBN Co expects up to three-quarters of premises in fibre-connected areas will take up the NBN service at the end of the 18-month time period, except those premises deemed 'frustrated' — who refused a connection — as well as empty or wireless-only homes.

A spokeswoman for NBN Co confirmed average take-up in areas was 15 percent, but some areas had take-up of up to 40 percent.

But Australian Communications Consumer Action Network chief executive Teresa Corbin warned some consumers remained unaware of the consequences of the copper switch-off, or the need to take up an NBN fibre service in those areas.

Statistics shared by Hassell at the CommsDay Congress in Melbourne this week indicated nearly half of residents (44 percent) who had adopted fibre services had opted for 100 Mbps broadband speeds, with the 25 Mbps speed tier second most popular at 34 percent of services.

Premises passed by NBN fibre:

  • Armidale, NSW (Four areas) - 5400 premises
  • Brunswick, Victoria - 2900 premises
  • Deloraine, Tasmania - 1300 premises
  • George Town, Tasmania - 2300 premises
  • Kiama, NSW - 2400 premises
  • Kingston Beach, Tasmania - 1000 premises
  • Sorell, Tasmania - 1300 premises
  • South Morang, Victoria - 2300 premises
  • St Helens, Tasmania - 2200 premises
  • Townsville, Queensland - 2900 premises
  • Triabunna, Tasmania - 500 premises
  • Willunga, South Australia - 1100 premises
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