Telstra’s ageing copper network for business Ethernet and DSL has been granted a controversial stay of execution under planned disconnections to switch to the NBN by Australia’s competition watchdog, despite earlier protests from other telcos.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission on Friday said it had approved Telstra’s proposed variation to the NBN Migration Plan for Special Services, with “an in Train Order (ITO) process being established which will provide business customers with a longer period before disconnection occurs where a valid order is in place for migration to the NBN.”
The new arrangements buy users around eight months extra breathing space, with the ACCC saying customers will get “170 business days after the initial disconnection date before disconnection of services will commence,” the ACCC said.
“Orders placed after 12 November 2018 will not have access to the ITO process but will obtain a benefit through deferred disconnection activity which will commence after 29 January 2019.”
Vocus and Aussie Broadband have opposed the granting of extensions, arguing that with the cut-off date having been known for years larger telcos had plenty of time to prepare.
The timing of special service disconnections for the NBN has polarised carriers offering the legacy products. The issue of deadlines hitting up against the Christmas break has been one sticking point because carriers, like the rest of Australia, often have large numbers of staff taking leave.
Another issue is that many regional coastal areas can experience a big seasonal upswing in demand for bandwidth as holiday makers descend upon seaside areas, putting fixed line and mobile infrastructure to the test.
The ACCC describes Special Services as “business-grade services used for critical purposes other than standard landline phone or internet services.”
In many cases that can mean corporate systems as well as electronic payments connectivity.
The ACCC is now urging customers not to be caught short by the switch.
“The ACCC strongly encourages all Special Service customers with a 12 November 2018 disconnection date to place an order for migration to the NBN before this date to take advantage of these new ITO arrangements and avoid the possibility of unintended disconnections to their services,” ACCC Commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.