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National Broadband Network (NBN)

National  broadband network (NBN)

The National Broadband Network (NBN) is an upgrade to Australia’s existing telecommunications network designed to provide Australians with access to fast, reliable and affordable landline phone and internet services. If you are unsure if the NBN is available in your area/your street, please phone 1800 687 626 or visit www.nbnco.com.au.

The NBNCO website publishes information about the network, how to connect home or business and support including information on medical alarm registration, fire and lift registration and information about what happens in a power blackout.

The following is important information for users, their carers and family

Personal medical alert systems and the NBN

COTA and ACCAN (Australian Communications Consumers Action Network) identified an important issue around personal medical alerts and NBN connectivity.  Most personal medical alarms are connected to your phone line, so they can call for help if triggered by the customer.  The problem is that telephone and internet connected over the NBN network will not work during a power outage.  NBN has recommended that people have a charged mobile phone available as an alternative. 

Power blackout – It’s unlikely that devices connected over the nbn™ network will work during a power blackout. Consider having an alternative form of communication handy, such as a charged mobile phone. If you have a safety critical device (e.g. medical alarm, fire alarm or emergency lift phone), speak to your device or retail service provider about alternative solutions.

These include: Medical alarms, professionally monitored medical alarms, family and friend autodiallers/emergency call buttons and Priority Assistance Service.

NBN published a Medical Alarms brochure last year and the advice in it remains important to follow.  It provides the following action checklist:

Click here to download the Medical Alarms brochure

Issues with non-working alarms and un-monitored alarms

COTA is a member of ACCAN (Australian Communications Consumers Action Network) which has lobbied to raise awareness of this issue:

Outcome:

NBN is engaging with all the providers of monitored medical alert systems to assist them to transition customers to NBN using mobile devices. (However, consumers with monitored systems should still make direct contact with their medical alert monitoring provider to follow up on this).

ACCAN is still advocating strongly with the regulator that all people signing NBN contracts should do so only with informed consent regarding medical alerts and other devices that may not work on NBN. 

While informed consent and very good information are essential, they may not be enough for those consumers who have particular vulnerabilities.

Transition to NBN – more information

On the broader issue of transition to NBN here are a few points to note:

Problems with NBN providers’ communications

If you are receiving communications (either written or on the phone) from NBN providers that you consider to be pressuring, confusing, hard to understand or threatening, please alert COTA to them.

Examples provide a COTA Policy Officer with the opportunity to take up the issue with ACCAN, the ACCC, the regulator and/or NBN.