What the NBN will mean for your land line

Jul 11, 2017
You can keep your number but a power outage is bad news.

Many people are confused about what the National Broadband Network (NBN) will mean for their home phone service. Here’s what you need to know.

Put simply, the NBN is going to replace the existing copper telephone network we’ve relied on for years. This change means you will get faster broadband speeds, which is handy for video calls and catching up on your favourite TV shows.

But moving to the NBN will also mean that your existing landline service will be replaced. You can still have telephone service in your house, and you’ll be able to keep your existing number. However, it will use the NBN network.

The NBN network uses different technology depending on where you live: it could use high-speed fibre, a mixture of fibre and copper, pay TV cabling or a satellite connection.

Also, you don’t get any choice about what connection you get: what’s rolled out depends on where you live.

Not everyone is enthusiastic about the NBN.

A survey conducted by finder.com.au earlier this year found that 37 per cent of Australians have no idea what the NBN is and don’t plan to sign up. But there’s no real way to opt out of the NBN.

While you don’t have to connect to the NBN once it’s available in your area, you won’t be able to stay on your existing phone line indefinitely.

Typically, the old landline phone network is deactivated 18 months after the NBN is switched on for a given address. At that point, your only options will be to either rely on your mobile phone or have no phone service at all.

One common concern about the NBN is, what happens if there’s a power outage?

For most NBN customers, the connection simply won’t work. However, blackouts generally don’t affect mobile phone services, and the vast majority of Australians now have a mobile phone, so that’s likely to be an option most people can choose in an emergency.

If you want to find out when the NBN is coming to your area, you can use this handy checker.

Once the NBN is available in your area, your current phone service provider will likely contact you and offer to shift you to the new service.

While that might seem like the easy option, it’s worth doing some comparison shopping first.

Shifting to a different provider could provide you with cheaper rates. Many NBN plans include unlimited calls to Australian numbers on both landlines and mobiles, which can make your monthly bill much more predictable.

One other issue to be aware of is that if you have a medical alarm installed, that equipment will probably need adjusting to work correctly with the NBN.

You can register with NBN to ensure that medical alarm issues are dealt with ahead of time.

Angus Kidman is a technology expert and the editor-in-chief for finder.com.au.

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