Telstra has suddenly gone cold on the prospect of mass-disconnecting business Ethernet and DSL users off its network from November 12, seeking a stay until the end of January 2019.
The proposal comes despite years of preparations for the migration and disconnection of so-called temporary special services (TSS), and dates that has been set since at least 2016.
Users of TSS services are able to migrate either to the NBN or to a non-NBN service.
However, Telstra now claims that it - together with NBN Co, retail service providers and end users - might benefit from not having to disconnect users from their copper services over the summer.
“The effect of the proposed changes will be that the commencement of disconnection activity is deferred until 29 January 2019, after the Christmas, New Year and Australia Day public holidays,” Telstra said in a new regulatory filing [pdf].
“This proposal is driven by a concern to minimise the potentially disruptive impacts of disconnections activity on affected end-users and move the required activity to a time when it can be sensibly managed, given Telstra, NBN Co and impacted RSPs would otherwise be likely to have lower levels of staffing available to assist end users.
“The extended period will also reduce the risk of unintended disruptions to end-user services as a result of the industry being required, for the first time since the inception of the plan, to conduct large scale transitions and disconnections of TSS due for disconnection or migration.”
But at least one RSP, Aussie Broadband, disagrees with the proposal and has asked the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to reject it.
Aussie Broadband’s managing director Phillip Britt said it was “a bad idea” and reiterated that the industry “has had plenty of time to prepare for this, and plenty of time to work with business and government customers to prepare them.”
“It seems obvious to us that there would be significant financial benefit to the larger telcos if the status quo was to hang on, and likewise a disadvantage to challenger ISPs such as ourselves,” Britt said.
“We believe the ‘big four’ [RSPs] have had enough financial advantages already from the introduction of the NBN; they don’t need any more.”
iTnews reported earlier today that the big four RSPs now control over 90 percent of all activated NBN services, excluding satellite.
Britt also said that any delayed migration could “further damage NBN’s business case.”
“Yes, there are lots of migrations to be done, yes it’s going to be difficult – but let’s just get on and get it done,” he said.
“We’re ready, and we don’t see why anyone else is not.”
NBN Co is hoping that business services will eventually contribute between 15 and 20 percent of its total revenue. It is unclear at this early stage whether the network builder would support a delayed migration.
An NBN Co spokesperson indicated the company had already considered the situation that Telstra is trying to fix.
"Through our industry consultation we identified an in-train order process as an option to help safeguard disconnections of customers who have placed an order for special business services but were not able to fully connect them before their disconnection date," the spokesperson said.
"The in-train order process provides additional safeguards for businesses as it ensures that if they place an order to move services to the NBN access network before their disconnection date, they will have 170 business days to migrate before the legacy services are switched off."
NBN Co's spokesperson added that because "migration for businesses can take some time, we are encouraging all businesses who use Ethernet-Lite and Wholesale BDSL in areas where the NBN access network is available to speak with their provider about placing an order to move them to the new network before their disconnection date."
Telstra's delay proposal is bundled into a regulatory filing that also includes details of delays to HFC disconnection processes, for which Telstra already has interim ACCC approval on the proviso it filed more detailed paperwork.
Update 3.14pm: With comments from NBN Co, and clarifying that Telstra is seeking an extension to when it begins disconnecting users rather than to the migration of business users off copper.