NBN and the copper phone lines

This is a quick follow-up to my post about getting NBN Fixed Wireless.

When talking to Telstra to cancel our previous 3G broadband service I was warned that we would need to transfer our phone service to NBN because the existing copper wires would be decommissioned approximately a year after NBN became available.

I expressed my scepticism about this, pointing out that we are in a fixed wireless only area and that this seemed unlikely. The Telstra person admitted that this wasn't official but it was what they had heard and understood the situation to be. The copper is on it's last legs and costs so much to maintain etc etc

Now this didn't worry me because I simply did not believe it, but I could imagine that such a warning coming, even unofficially, from a Telstra person could be a concern to some.

We recently received a mail-out from NBN Co announcing that the NBN is now available in our area (only a month behind being told by the ISPs but who's counting). It included a brochure giving a good summary of Fixed Wireless without much of the breathless hype that the ISP material tends to include.

NBN Brouchure

In particular this brochure (which I can't find on the NBN Co website) includes a footnote explicitly addressing the phone issue:

"In fixed wireless areas, NBN Co will be providing a broadband service only. The copper phone line will remain in place to provide a telephone service …"

It goes on to explain that ISPs may offer telephony services and covers that bundling may decrease the cost of the broadband component.

Bundling has it's attractions but there are a couple of factors to think about if you are considering it:

  1. Power - A simple landline phone draws its power from the phone line so will work during a power outage (This is not the case for speaker phones or wireless handsets that use a base station that plugs into a power point). Telephony over NBN will not work during a power outage unless you buy a battery backup unit, which are available. Battery backup will only provide power for a limited time.
  2. Other devices that use the line - Many homes have back to base monitored security systems that use the phone line. Some homes have emergency monitoring/call for assistance systems for the aged or infirmed. Many such devices can probably be made to work with the NBN but you would need to check and they may well complicate the installation and add cost.

So it's an option to think about if you are going onto NBN Fixed Wireless, but don't be put off if you hear dire warnings about the copper being ripped out of the ground.