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Australian Government hopes to untangle NBN migration mess

'User focussed' and 'industry led' effort to stop folks coming a cropper post-copper

Australia's government is looking for industry input into National Broadband Network (NBN) migration policy, and wants submissions by August 20.

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull's statement says the new round of consultation seeks a migration framework that is both industry-led and focussed on the end user.

The centrepiece of the consultation is a new Migration Assurance Policy (MAP) framework (PDF here), which updates the fibre-to-the-premises era policy in which end users had 18 months to connect to the NBN after an area was declared “ready for service”.

After that point, the withdrawal of Telstra copper services would leave laggards without any fixed network connection. Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement says the new MAP is designed to leave “minimal risk of unexpected interruption to [users] services.”

The MAP notes that “inconsistent messaging, serviceability challenges and a lack of clarity around the roles and responsibilities of the various parties involved” meant some people failed to make the shift before their Telstra connection was withdrawn.

The new proposed MAP will require Telstra to provide network builder nbnTM with map data for “all active copper line services”, while application service providers will be asked to provide similar information to support customer migration.

Business grade services delivered over Telstra copper will have longer than the 18 months that applies to consumer services, at 36 months, and the disconnection countdown won't be triggered until nbnTM publishes a white paper explaining support for their business grade services.

The document also says the government, Telstra and nbnTM are starting work on one of the thornier problems of transferring Telstra's copper to the NBN – how to handle so-called “non-premises” services.

At the moment, things like traffic lights, pay-phones, bus stops, mobile phone towers and other utility infrastructure were in a grey zone. The NBN was capable of carrying such connections, but there was no requirement that it do so.

The MAP proposes that a high-level plan to set non-premises policy be developed this year, and industry consultation begin to set a migration timetable to start in 2017. ®

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