NBN and Telephone Services

What happens to the telephone line service when the National Broadband Network (NBN) comes to my place?

This is one of the most common questions people ask when discussing the NBN rollout.  

For (Fibre to the Premise)FTTP ,Fibre to the Node(FTTN), Fibre to the Curb (FTTC), Fibre to the Building (FTTB) and Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HCF) NBN installations the existing copper telephone line services will be turned off after 18 months once you are notified the NBN service is available in your area.

The reason for the change of service is the FTTN, FTTB and FTTC installations use the existing copper phone line as the final link for the NBN connection into the customer premises. With the change of the phone line function to the NBN the old analogue based phone service will no longer work.

In the FTTP and HFC connections phone services are moved to the new NBN connection media.  The old phone service supported on the existing copper line is basically turned off at the TELSTRA phone exchange.

The 18 month changeover period is to allow the customer sufficient time to migrate to a new phone service. While this is causing confusion and anger with some customers the end result will be everyone who wants to maintain a landline based phone service will have to eventually move to a NBN based connection.

The only exception to this situation are premises within NBN Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster satellite areas. These customers will have the choice to keep their existing landline phone service over the copper network active, or switch over to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service. Usually these connections are in remote areas and will require existing phones services to be kept in place

So what are the options for a telephone connection?

  1. Once the NBN service is made available in your area you could use the existing phone services for the 18 month period and wait for the existing phone service to be turned off.  

However you will be constantly approached by service providers warning you of the expiry period and wanting to move you to a new NBN connection.

Warning there have been many phone scammers contacting people creating fear by saying their line will be disconnected in 24 hours. If you get a call like this just hang up and report the incident to Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman on 1800 062 058.

For this reason I would not recommend this option.  Eventually your phone line will have to move and it is better to be proactive and be prepared for the outcome.

2. Move to a new NBN phone service plan. Telstra has NBN phone only plans and other reputable Service providers  can offer a similar phone only, no data plans

The Telstra phone plans are

Home Phone Budget on the NBN is $24.95 per month with a $59 activation fee. There is no fixed contract term. Like the previous copper plans above you can pay more to get more features.

Home Phone Basic on the NBN is $27.95 per month with a $99 connection fee.

Home Phone Local on the NBN is $40 per month with a $99 connection fee.

Telstra Home Phone Essential on the NBN – is the same cost as the old copper one. Telstra may charge $59 for reconnection of your existing phone number.

Telstra charge a fee as they will have to come to your premises and put a new gateway box for the new NBN connection.  

The gateway converts your existing phone signal into a digital Voice over IP (VOIP) package that travels over the NBN connection. It needs the power to do that. If you lose power to the gateway then the phone will not function.

3. If you have the Internet on premises move to a new NBN Internet provider plan. 

So prior to the NBN you will probably have an existing ADSL dedicated connection to the Internet shared with their current phone service on the same copper line.

When the NBN connection is made to the premises the old ADSL connection and phone service will be cut off as it not compatible with NBN technology.  In this case all that is required is to have the new NBN gateway installed and connect the phone to the phone connection port on the gateway. The service will be provisioned by the Internet Service Provider (ISP) and your existing landline phone number will be kept and function as before.

4. Drop the landline and use a mobile phone connection

While this may not be the outcome you initially were looking for it may be the most cost effective.

In the past the reason why people preferred to use landlines for telephone calls was mainly for the cost.  I remember when calls to mobile phones were charged at over a dollar per minute.  This was the time when an unlimited time local call on a landline was 15 cents. The only other charge for the landline was the twenty dollar monthly rental fee.  Then it made sense to restrict the calls to the landline.

Today all has changed and it has become more cost effective to use a mobile phone as you preferred form of communication.  There are now no contract plans starting at $10.00 per month.

For this price you will have to bring you own phone but you will get unlimited calls to both landline and mobile phones for a set rate. Also Short Message Service (SMS) is included and some plans include Internet data.

A decent Android mobile phone can be purchased for $100.00. No other costs are required.

Also you get the benefit of using the capability of the mobile for email, web browsing and VOIP calls if needed.

However with all the options some issues will have to be addressed. If you currently use any of the following services on you existing phone line a suitable solution will have to be found before you change to a new phone service. They are:

  • Medical alarm, autodialler or emergency call button
  • Security alarm
  • EFTPOS or health claim terminal
  • Monitored fire alarm
  • Lift emergency phone
  • Fax and teletypewriter devices

This probably will not be much of an issue today as the providers have their services integrated with NBN connections now but it would be wise to seek technical help before you make any changes.