The federal government has revamped its policy on migrating services to the NBN to include a six-month extension on disconnection dates for difficult to service customers.
Under the new migration assurance policy [pdf], any properties that require additional work will be removed from an NBN rollout region and placed into a special “service continuity region” six months before the disconnection date for a rollout area.
These service continuity region customers will then be given a six-month extension to the disconnection date for their property.
NBN will be required to get at least 90 percent of the properties in each service continuity region serviceable by the regular disconnection date for the surrounding rollout area, with a plan in place for switching over the remaining properties.
Any customers who can’t be serviced by the NBN will be exempted from cease sale rules, and will be able to order a fixed line service delivered through Telstra’s copper access network. However, they will still need to migrate once services on the NBN become available.
Likewise, if a service on Telstra’s network is disconnected before a service on the NBN can be activated, Telstra will be required to reconnect the service as soon as possible.
The new rules also require NBN to improve its operational processes to make sure its records are accurate, and that it provides accurate information to RSPs about which customers are being placed in a service continuity region, as well as why their properties can’t be connected.
To simplify disconnection dates, only one switch-off date will occur each month.
Previously, end users were given 18 months from the point at which their rollout area is declared ready for service until the copper is switched off.
However, this led to a situation where some end users placed an order with a retail service provider close to the disconnection date, only to find their properties need further construction or remediation work to connect to the network.
Such customers were classified as being at “service class zero”, meaning they were unable to place an NBN order with an RSP or connect services on Telstra’s legacy copper network.
The policy also includes a number of new guidelines covering special services and vulnerable groups.
NBN’s community relations team will develop special plans with major community groups - such as Vision Australia and National Seniors Australia - in order to reach customers with special communications needs.
The policy document notes that the federal government, NBN and Telstra are working on a migration strategy for ‘non premises’ services, including traffic lights, payphones, bus stops, bridge controls, mobile phone cell towers and utilities.
Following industry consultation, a timetable for migration and disconnection of these ‘non‐premises’ services will begin after 2017.
The policy is the final outcome of a consultation process that began after NBN struggled through a difficult first batch of transfers from Telstra's copper network, with a draft policy released in July last year.