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23 May copper switchoff deadline will not be postponed

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There are some situations where you will be excluded from the disconnection process (for example NBNCo are unable to connect you), you should discuss this with your provider. If you are running a business, you should read my blog post on preparing yourself for the

Copper Switchoff – preparing your business

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If you live in the fibre areas of Deloraine, George Town or St Helens – the copper based fixed telephone and internet is due to be switched off next Friday (May 23rd). If you want to avoid this disconnection it is important to contact a

HICAPS drops the NBN ball

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It appears that I originally called them back in November last year to discover what they are doing – at the time they were working on a 3G device. I called them again today to find out progress. It appears that they now do have

Launceston NBN Survival Information Night – 6 March

We are holding our first NBN Survival Information Night in Launceston at the Best Western Plus, Earl Street, Launceston. While the disconnection date for the parts of Launceston that are affected is not until the end of the year. There are so many businesses that

Telstra to announce ISDN replacement product on NBN

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I have heard informally from two sources within Telstra that they are expecting to announce a replacement ISDN product within the next few months, along with an 18 month switchoff timeline for ISDN. So what does this mean? If you are considering changing over to

Telstra disagrees with me over contracts

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You may remember that I posted a copy of a letter that Michael Patterson, the General Manager of Telstra Countrywide Tasmania, sent out to many (all?) small businesses in Tasmania. Well today (Monday 20 Jan) I received a call from the Michael asking to meet me for a coffee. His main point of contention was that, while he was not across all the details, he disagreed with my posts about the contract situation when transitioning clients to the NBN.

My position (in a nutshell) is that the NBN service is so different from the ADSL and fixed line service that it is replacing that many existing contracts would become void. The main problem being that the provider cannot continue to provide the current service (which among other things allow Fax, EFTPOS & Alarm Systems to work reliably).

He promised me he would provide a business brief from his team – in other words the official Telstra position, which I promised I would post up here when I receive it. I assured him that my main goal on this website was to provide clear information to small businesses. There is enough mis-information out there about this transition, I certainly don’t want to add to it.

St Helens information night a roaring success

Well it has been a few days since our booked out information night in St Helens last Wednesday, but this is the first time I have had a moment to sit down. What most people seemed to appreciate is the informality of the event. I have a presentation I give, but this is mostly just to trigger people to ask questions and ask they certainly did!

The feedback I got (via a survey) was extremely positive. I think one of the most telling answers was to the question “How likely are you to recommend the event to a friend?”, everybody answered either “Extremely Likely” or “Very Likely”.

I spend all of Thursday visiting businesses helping them to get a handle on what was required to transition them across.

Unfortunately due to how busy I have been since the St Helens night, I haven’t had the time to market the Deloraine night on the 22nd Jan, so we have had to postpone it for the moment. I will personally visit the few people who had already booked in.

Telstra willing to waive existing contracts when moving to the NBN

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For those who have been following my investigation into whether suppliers can hold you to an existing contract when transitioning to the NBN – i.e. force you to take their NBN service. I had a significant result today.

In a nutshell a potential client had a Telstra BizEssentials package, which was an ADSL internet and fixed line bundle, on a 2 year contract, signed in April 2013, which extended way past the 23 May 2014 cut off date. Telstra had informed him that while they could supply an NBN package encompassing the phone and internet, the phone line could not be used for fax, EFTPOS and alarms systems. To allow these to work an additional ISDN line would have to be installed at extra cost.

This amounts to a significant change to the service supplied under a contract and by law, Telstra must allow the client to escape from the contract. I was expecting to have to argue with Telstra regarding this, but no, a call to their call centre, followed up with an email and a few hours later they came back saying they had removed the contract from the service. That was easy!

So now the client is free to choose whatever supplier they wish to transition them to the NBN (including of course staying with Telstra).

So it appears that Telstra are very aware of their contract obligations and have decided not to stand in the way.

Morty’s on the Bay struggling to connect to the NBN

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I spent Friday down in St Helens promoting the information night I am holding in St Helens next Wednesday (15 Jan). During my walk around I was introduced to Mort Douglas who is the developer for the new Morty’s on the Bay complex. He related to me the story of the trouble that the businesses moving in are having getting the NBN switched on in the building.

Indeed I noted that the cafe on the ground floor didn’t have an EFTPOS machine due to the problem.

My understanding is that have NBNCo have failed to recognise this as the multi-tenant building that it is and work on a “whole-of-building” approach. Unfortunately because NBNCo are one step removed (they can’t deal directly with customers – they are wholesale only), this has led to them not always being across what is going on on the ground and more to the point what is required.

I have fired off an email to my account managers at NBNCo to see if we can’t get the right people to talk to each other. I will keep you posted of what is happening.

NBN Installs delayed to March due to “remediation” required

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We have just received word that the NBN Installs for three of our clients (Delquip, Mountain View Inn & ATX Sales) in Deloraine have been delayed in 3rd March – due to “remediation required”. This typically means that there is an issue with the Aurora Power Pole that is being used to deliver the NBN Fibre connection.

This is getting dangerously close to the time when we need to have completed transitioning clients across to the NBN – 3rd May (nothing can be changed in the last 20 days before switchoff on the 23rd May).

We need NBNCo to prioritise the towns (like Deloraine) that are facing the switchoff deadline and to prioritise businesses, since they take longer to migrate.

I have written the following email to the Federal Member Eric Hutchinson:-

Dear Eric,

We have just heard that NBNCo have delayed three NBN Business installs in Deloraine until 3rd March 2014 due to their connections requiring "remediation".

As you are probably aware the copper telephone is being disconnected in Deloraine on 23 May 2014 requiring all subscribers (including businesses) to transition across to the NBN by that time. In practice the actual deadline is the 3rd May, since nothing can be changed (like moving numbers) in the last 20 days (Telstra "Order Stability").

We are a small telecommunications company, based in Launceston, specialising in moving small businesses across to the NBN. Moving a business (with their EFTPOS, Fax, Alarms, phone systems etc) is a very complicated process - taking many months to achieve particularly when you include the required testing and troubleshooting to perform a smooth transition (without downtime).

I realise that there is nothing can be done about the deadline - I have already been in touch with Malcolm Turnbull's office about this. However there is something you can do about NBNCo, given that this a government enterprise.

My request is that you approach Malcolm Turnbull and ask him to direct NBNCo to:-

1) Prioritise the towns that are affected by the 23 May switchoff: namely Deloraine, St Helens and George Town (not in your electorate).
2) Prioritise businesses over residential since they will take
considerably longer to transition than residential (who often only need the internet, not phones etc)
3) Impress on Aurora that they need to get their act together if the fibre is delivered via a power pole to quickly fix any issues.

I am happy to discuss all this with you on the phone at any of the numbers below.

Many thanks,

Damian
--
Launtel - We're at your call
Tel: 1800LAUNTEL (1800528683)
Mob: 0418217582
Fax: 1300784109

Govt confirms deadline will not be delayed

Malcolm Turnbull webshot

Just before Christmas I received this letter from Malcolm Turnbull’s office. I had asked via Barry Jarvis (the mayor of Dorset Council, Scottsdale) what information the Government had about the switch off and what options there were to delay the deadline. While the letter talks about getting NBNCo’s act together, the deadline is not changeable – it is out of their hands due to the definitive agreement signed between NBNCo and Telstra.

So unfortunately it looks like there is nothing that can be done to delay the deadline.

NBN Rural Woes

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ON Sunday, December 22, the NBN cable was off the hydro pole and on the top off a barbed wire  fence in the blackberries on Tasman Highway 2 1/2 kilometres from St Helens towards Scottsdale.

I notified Aurora as I thought it might have been the three-phase power cable.

It was terrific in its response and actions but said it was the NBN cable and the NBN had been notified.

I spoke to a Visionstream person who also said that NBN had been notified on three occasions about this, but it took until 3.45pm on Friday, December 27, for the repair crew to come and lift the cable out of the blackberries and barbed wire fence.

The NBN cable is still only about four metres off the ground between the poles.

My concerns on so-called remote locations like St Helens with the NBN has now been confirmed with this fiasco – if live stock had been in the paddock, as we all know, they would have chewed it to pieces, and potentially put small businesses out of business.

When the copper is turned off nobody can trade without a live connection as we are all unfortunately committed to computers.

NBN obviously doesn’t give a high priority to repairs and maintenance so how can we operate with the cables strung between poles in a remote location and in a fire-prone area?

– Michael Tucker of St Helens Newsagency, Examiner 3rd Jan 2014

You can find the original opinion piece here

What Michael doesn’t say is that following the May 2014 permanent switch off of the copper network the telephones would also be inoperable should the fibre cable be cut. This is of great concern – particularly for businesses.

Given that the cut off date seems to completely immovable it is important that we:

  • Keep lobbying the government and NBNCo to secure these cables – Michael Tucker noted in my meeting with him before Christmas that following the 1967 Bushfires it was mandated that telephone lines be carried underground due to their importance – the same should be true of the fibre.
  • Businesses consider carefully the impact that loss of internet and phones would have on their business and consider putting in place some backup options (using the 3G mobile network).

St Helens Information night – 15 Jan – Tidal Waters Resort

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After discussions with Kathie Davies (Vice President of the St Helens Chamber of Commerce), it is clear that there is a lot of confusion surrounding the NBN Transition particularly for small businesses. We have decided to hold an information night in St Helens. We will be advertising this on Star FM. If you run a small business you will get a lot out of the evening. This especially true if you have already decided which company you are going to transition with.

Update 13/01/14: Unfortunately our St Helens event is now full. If you would like to be notified of future events please sign up for our newsletter on the right. I am also available for one-on-one meetings where I can discuss your particular situation – call (0418217582) or email me

 

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NBN installs delayed – due to lack of staff

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NBNCo have informed us that they have put two of our NBN installations in Deloraine on hold because “they don’t have enough staff in Tasmania”. These were installs due on the 2nd and 3rd January. We have no new installation dates for these clients.

We have several more installations due to occur next week (the week of 6th January), we have not heard about these, but we can expect these to be delayed as well.

This is of concern because we are still 5 months out from the switchoff deadline in Deloraine (23 May) and we expect the volume of new installs to increase as we approach this deadline.

My strong recommendation to clients is to at least order an NBN connection (without a contract) from any provider to get the NBN Box (NTD) installed.

Telstra’s misleading letter to business owners

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Some of you may have received a letter from Michael Patterson (reproduced below), Telstra’s Area General Manager for Tasmania, regarding the impending switchoff of the copper network and the need to switch over to the NBN.

I want to point out one place where he may be technically correct, but I believe he is being very misleading. He states that “… if you’re still within your contract, we can transfer your services to a similar plan on the new network, without triggering early termination charges under your current plan, if you move to a plan with an equal or higher monthly cost.

What he neglects to say is that changing over to the NBN is very likely to be a change in the terms of your contract. Under Australian Consumer Law (extended to small business under the new TCP code) you therefore have the right to decline the new “offer” and terminate any existing contract without penalty regardless of what plan you move to or even stay with Telstra at all. In order words you aren’t locked into continuing your existing contract and can terminate it and move to another provider.

This situation is particularly clear if you are required to take on (and pay for) an extra service (such as the new “data only line” Telstra are now offering to allow fax, eftpos, and alarms to continue to work) as part of the transition. In other words you end up paying more for the same service as you’re getting now.

I have been working with a client who took out a bundled internet and phone contract (BizEssentials) for 2 years in April 2013 – the contract will extend well past the disconnection date of May 2014. Because Telstra are not able to support fax, eftpos & alarms over the NBN they have recommended the client take on a “data only line” (actually a single channel ISDN line) at the extra cost of $49.95 per month (plus calls – he is currently getting local and STD calls for free as part of his bundle).

In discussions with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), they have indeed confirmed that Telstra do need to release the client from the contract without penalty (early termination charges), since they are unilaterally changing the terms of the contract. They have recommended that I escalate this within Telstra and if that proves unsuccessful to get them involved.

I will let you know how I get on.

Update 14/01/14: Following a call to Telstra’s call centre on behalf of a client, they have released the client from the contract – he is now free to choose whoever he likes to transition him to the NBN.

Damian

 

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