Telstra, NBN push back Christmas disconnection dates

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Telstra, NBN push back Christmas disconnection dates

To make sure people are home, can make emergency calls.

Telstra has pushed back the dates it plans to disconnect customers from its network and transition them onto the NBN over Christmas following concerns from retail partners that many customers might not be around during the break.

Earlier this month, Telstra and NBN asked permission from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to revise their transition arrangements over Christmas and New Year to "minimise the impacts of managed disconnection activity".

The pair said industry had raised concerns that the existing disconnection timetable would be "unnecessarily disruptive" for end users, who might either be difficult to contact or not around at all during the holiday break.

Telstra and NBN suggested pushing back disconnection for two waves of premises previously scheduled for transition in the middle of the Christmas/New Year season.

Those scheduled for migration in wave 18 - with a disconnection date of November 13 - will retain the same disconnection date but Telstra will not actually start switching off services until January 11 next year. It had previously scheduled managed disconnections to begin on December 29.

Telstra takes around ten business days to cancel copper services after a disconnection. Services are first suspended - during which time only calls to 000 and Telstra are available - before being disconnected altogether. The entire process is known as managed disconnection.

For wave 18 - which appears to affect 19 regions [pdf] - the telco will still suspend services from November 27, meaning customers will remain in the so-called 'soft dial' stage where only calls to 000 and Telstra are allowed, but services won't start being disconnected until January 11.

Telstra said it made the decision to push back the process so customers can still make emergency services calls over the break.

The telco now expects to have completed the disconnections for wave 18 by February 2, rather than January 20.

"The additional time allowed should give industry more time to manage their customers over the Christmas/New Year period," Telstra told the ACCC [pdf].

For wave 19 - which affects 62 regions - Telstra has opted to split the group into two and fully defer the planned disconnection date.

Premises scheduled to begin the disconnection process on January 15 will now either have until February 26 or March 25 to sign up for the NBN.

Telstra said it made the decision after industry noted the challenges involved with disconnecting such a large number of premises from one date, especially given the time of year.

Forty-two rollout regions will now start the disconnection process under wave 19(a) on February 26, and the remaining 20 regions - wave 19(b) - will start on March 25.

Copper services will be fully switched off for the first group on May 5, and May 31 for the second group.

"While we believe these changes are beneficial for customers and respond to industry concerns, we note that the impact of deferring the disconnection date for these regions means there will be a greater volume of customers that may face disconnection in February and March 2016," Telstra told the ACCC.

"We would therefore encourage service providers to migrate customers early, to promote continuity of their services."

The ACCC rubberstamped the proposal and said it was supportive of efforts to minimise disruption for consumers.

"We note industry concerns that consumers facing managed disconnection may be more difficult to contact during the holiday period, and concerns about the high volume of disconnections falling on 15 January 2016," the ACCC wrote.

"We therefore support the proposed deferral outlined by Telstra."

NBN CEO Bill Morrow last night revealed the network builder had spent $14 million for 1800km of new copper - to last the next five months - to connect NBN nodes to Telstra's distribution pillars.

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