Telstra has widened the number of bushfire-affected states and postcodes for which it will delay mandatory disconnection of legacy copper services.
The telco temporarily suspended some disconnection activities in NSW and Queensland in mid-November as the two states faced a “catastrophic” fire danger and - in NSW’ case - a week-long state of emergency.
The call was made “to minimise risks to front-line staff, and to protect existing lines of communication for affected customers”, Telstra said at the time.
Though it indicated a few weeks later that it planned to lift the suspension due to the fires being “seemingly under control”, it has now emerged that, together with NBN Co, it agreed to continue the suspension and expand it to other states and territories.
It will now suspend disconnection of legacy copper services in “postcodes directly affected by bushfires in NSW, South Australia, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory”.
Additionally, Telstra said, “the expanded set of protected postcodes include all regional areas of NSW, Victoria and the ACT.”
“Further, the expanded set of protected postcodes also includes certain metropolitan postcodes within urban fringe areas that are directly impacted by the bushfires.”
The practical effect of this is that mandatory disconnection in the affected areas will now occur on July 10.
These changes are visible in Telstra Wholesale’s rollout schedule and disconnection dates spreadsheet, though the exact number of premises in this group is difficult to calculate.
Telstra has been able to invoke a force majeure - unforeseeable circumstances - clause in its agreements with NBN Co to delay disconnection of some existing services, with NBN Co and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission’s (ACCC’s) blessing.
Shoring up existing telecommunications services has been a priority for telcos in bushfire-impacted areas.