Watchdog gives switch-off assurance

A MESSAGE of reassurance was yesterday delivered by Australia's consumer watchdog amid regional anxieties surrounding today's copper network switch-off.

Starting today, copper communication networks in the country's 15 pioneering National Broadband Network sites, including six Tasmanian suburbs and towns, will be permanently closed.

Deloraine, George Town, Kingston Beach, Sorell, St Helens and Triabunna are Tasmania's first towns to experience the shut-down process.

The commission yesterday said although Telstra was required to switch off copper in communities 18 months after fibre services were made available, there were exceptions for its disconnect.

It said those who had placed an order but had an incomplete connection, services not able to receive primary specialist business services, such as eftpos, and premises added to the NBN rollout region within six months of the disconnection date would remain connected to their existing networks.

An iiNet survey of 1200 adults, conducted by Hall and Partners Open Mind in April, showed 67 per cent of metropolitan residents believed NBN connection was optional and 62 per cent believed their landline would remain after the switch-off.

"The ACCC welcomes Telstra and NBN Co working with service providers with a view to disconnecting services in a manner that reduces the risk of consumers and businesses losing services that they value during migration to the NBN," ACCC commissioner Cristina Cifuentes said.

"Now is the time for consumers and businesses to decide whether they want to continue to use a home phone or fixed line internet service."

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