HOME owners and businesses will have little choice but to sign over to the National Broadband Network with confirmation existing phone lines in some Ballarat suburbs will be disconnected within 18 months.
NBN Co corporate affairs account manager Mary Todorov revealed plans on Tuesday to disconnect copper in some suburbs by September 5 next year.
It will see landline phones, ADSL internet services and Telstra cable internet permanently turned off, with the onus on customers to contact their retail service providers to switch to the new NBN technology.
A clause in the NBN contract states Telstra’s copper must be disconnected 18 months after fibre is deployed to an area, with parts of Lake Wendouree, Newington and Ballarat Central coming online earlier this year.
The first Australian communities are preparing to disconnect their copper lines in coming weeks.
Copper lines are still used by many small business owners to connect their eftpos facilities and in some personal medical alarms.
Ms Todorov said NBN Co was working with the Ballarat City Council to educate the community about the transition.
“It won’t just be a quick slash. There are processes in place,” she said. “Newington was the first community to get NBN in March and in 18 months, September next year, we will switch off the previous network.”
Delays in connecting to the NBN across Ballarat have sparked fears of a backlog that could prevent people from connecting before the deadline, but Ms Todorov said there were measures in place to ensure nobody on a waiting list was disconnected.
Some non-NBN services, including TransAct and Opticon, run off a separate network and won’t be affected.
“It’s really important people have a little urgency and a deadline to actually switch over,” Ms Todorov said.
“It is not an automatic process ... you do need to contact your retail service provider.”
Ballarat technology expert George Fong said he believed there had been too much concern about the loss of copper, which would not be turned off until an alternative service was ready at the door of the property involved.
Under the system, people who didn’t want the internet could still ask their service provider for a phone only, he said.
He said in the event of a blackout, the new NBN phone service could lose power, so people should be proactive about ordering an optional, free backup battery.