Letter to the editor | NBN issues

NBN switch over concerns.
NBN switch over concerns.

This email is to advise phone and phone/adsl internet users of problems they may face with the introduction of the NBN network.                                                              

As a result of telstra/nbn urging people to transfer to nbn well before its final cutoff point in June 2018, I applied in September/October 2016 to transfer with telstra from phone/adsl Bigpond to an NBN internet/phone bundle still with Telstra. As Telstra and NBN are totally separate companies, I needed Telstra to cut off my phone/bigpond service with the advice from them that NBN would transfer supply of my phone/internet bundle within a few day. NBN never switched me over to their service at any stage.                                                                                             Unfortunately, Telstra cutoff my phone/internet service and immediately began deducting instalments for NBN from October 2016 even though I never received NBN from them at any stage. As I had a pressing need to have phone service, I applied to a new provider, Southern Phone who restored my service, I had no phone or internet for about four weeks and had about $90 deducted electronically from our bank account for a service I did not eventually get.                                        

As NBN did not switch me over to them, the only way Southern Phone could provide me with NBN was as a new customer with NBN by providing me with a temporary phone number to replace my old one, thus allowing me access to the internet again. I had to pay a local computer firm to establish a new email account as my old bigpond no longer worked. My temporary phone and internet are now working well. Since then I have heard of many customers who have also had their previous phone numbers changed to temporary phone numbers, by their providers, to enable receipt of NBN internet service. One of the problems is that people/firms do not have their new temporary numbers listed in the latest phone book. People ringing their old listings receive a message that the phone is cut off or no longer in service and, as far as I am aware, there is no information given re new temporary numbers.                                                                                                             Another very significant factor is that many people are not aware that when the final shutdown of the existing Telstra copper network occurs about June 2018, after planned stages in each area, existing customers are not automaticaly transferred to the NBN company. Standard telephone line users as well as phone/internet users have to apply to an approved internet providers (which also includes Telstra itself). If you do not apply through a provider well before June 2018, your phone and internet will be cut off and you may have a lengthy wait, like I did, for restoration of your phone, answering service, internet, email and possibly alarm systems.                                                                                                                                               Also, many people do not realise that the NBN supply of phone service is totally digital and in my case, is supplied with an OBHAI box which is powered by electricity. So in the event of a power failure, you will not be able to use your phone. Internet providers recommend that you have access to a mobile phone in case of emergencies. 

If you turn off your OBHA at the computer at night to save power, you may also turn off your phone for the night. I believe that communication between Telstra and the NBN company is sadly very poor and that the boards and heads of both companies need to establish why customers are not being switched over to NBN by the NBN company, within a reasonable time frame and why customers cannot retain their old phone numbers. Both companies blame each other for the problems but no one seems to have any solutions. I think some sort of coordinating body between the two companies is needed.

Unfortunately, government policy of retrenching telephone technicians and the resulting shortage of suitable technical staff in Telstra and I am sure understaffing in the NBN is a major problem in this matter. 

I have also found appealing to the Overseas Telecommunications Ombudsman futile and withdrew my complaint after two weeks as they are overburdened. Owen Fitzsimmons.