Switching Off the Copper

It never ceases to amaze me, the extent to which the NBN, its rollout, and its consequences, are surrounded by so much bullshit.

The NBN Co has not helped with its ever-changing rollout schedule. Not that any of that is the fault of the good people at the NBN Co. It might be the country’s largest infrastructure project, but it is also the country’s biggest political football, and given the timeframes for project completion and contemporary penchant for tear-it-down politics, it’s inevitable that the technology changes will be matched by changes in political will. However, it is the misinformation tactics of ISP’s, telephony providers and (sadly) some IT service providers, with which I take most issue.

Telephony providers have generally been the most predatory in the process, and the approach has been simple. It goes something like this:

  • Inside Sales or an Account Executive ring the customer or prospect telling them that the NBN is available in their area and, as such, unless they have moved to VoIP telephony, their phones will shortly cease to work.
  • If the customer or prospect understands what is happening, they’ll say something to the effect of “I’m good, thanks”, and hang up
  • If the customer of prospect doesn’t understand what is happening, they panic and sign up to anything that purports to keep their phone ringing.

The problem is that many of these providers have no knowledge of the customer’s site or network, no expertise at this first contact, and no effective plan to deploy an NBN service or VoIP telephony when the time comes.

The biggest “porky” that is being exploited at the moment is just when the copper network is being disconnected in your area. In the last couple of days, we’ve had one customer told that their copper phone lines would be disconnected mid-way through this month, but when we confirmed with a call to the NBN Co, the actual disconnection date is not until June. For their part, the CSO at the NBN Co asserted that the telco, Optus in this case, would be in breach of their agreement with the NBN Co if they did this, and who knows if they actually would disconnect the customer. But as a small business owner, it’s pretty unsettling to be told by your telephony provider that you’re about to lose your landlines unless you sign off on a new contact for different services.

Don’t get me wrong: it’s often difficult to know when copper lines will be disconnected because the dates can differ from street to street. However, if you browse to¬†http://www.nbnco.com.au/, and search your address, the results will tell you if an NBN service is available at that address and, if it is, it will give you a date when the copper network will be switched off. For the record, it’s going to be at least 18 months after an NBN service first becomes available at your address. If the NBN is not available to you at your address, no one is disconnecting your copper lines, regardless of what someone tells you over the phone.

If you have questions about the NBN or VoIP telephony, you can always contact us at WISE MSP on 1300 686 311, or by emailing sales@wisemsp.com.au.

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