The big switch: Business customers warned on ADSL changes

NBN Co says 855,000 homes and businesses are due to switch to the NBN access network between January and March next year, but it is urging small businesses to get ready.

Once a business address is ready for an NBN connection, a company has 18 months to switch its services before its ADSL connections are switched off for good.

John Massetti runs the Perfume & Skincare Company and is waiting for the NBN for his phone line to come back in action in Robertson, NSW.

John Massetti runs the Perfume & Skincare Company and is waiting for the NBN for his phone line to come back in action in Robertson, NSW.

Around three quarters of the users whose services will turn to NBN-only next year already have broadband services connected. But those that don't contact service providers to change to the NBN before ADSL is switched off could see periods of disconnection.

According to NBN Co, a number of key areas in Australian capital cities will start this process at the start of next year, including Bentleigh East and Vermont in Victoria, and Hornsby and Paddington in New South Wales.

Before the switch off happens, telcos will get in contact with businesses and NBN Co will issue a range of letters.

Complicating factors

But there are a number of complicating factors at play in NBN switch-ons that are still extremely confusing, say entrepreneurs like John Massetti.

Massetti runs The Perfume and Skincare Company with his wife in Roberston, NSW.

The couple recently moved their business premises. Massetti says despite being told by Telstra it would be a smooth transition, they didn't know their new premises would have to have the NBN connected for the first time for their phone lines to be transitioned to the new address.

"They said, 'we decided not to connect your ADSL again – we decided to wait until the NBN is connected, then we'll put the phone on,'" Massetti says.

"They’ve messed us around now for eight days… and retail is not that good anyway, it's in a bit of a decline."

As Massetti waits for an broadband installation next week, he says it wasn't clear to him what kind of internet service he would need at the new site in order to ensure a smooth transition of his services.

In a statement to Fairfax Media, Telstra says it is working with Massetti to resolve the issue, which it says relates to an address change rather than simply having to upgrade from copper to the NBN.

"This is not the experience our customers should expect of Telstra and we are working with them to restore their services. We will be reviewing the processes that occurred to prevent them from happening again," a spokesperson says.

Plan new NBN connections in advance

NBN Co says it's important small businesses get across what kinds of services they have and ensure they apply for NBN services well ahead of time.

"We recognise many businesses are time poor and often have more complex services such as multiple phone lines, EFTPOS, ATM and health claim terminals that may take longer to migrate than traditional services which is why we urge them to plan well ahead to ensure a smooth transition," NBN Co executive general manager of business service delivery and customer experience, Sarah Palmer, says.

Companies can enter their address into the rollout tool on the NBN website to get an idea of when they'll have to make the switch.

But small business leaders say owners are still confused about switching their services, and it's creating significant amounts of stress.

Victorian small business commissioner Judy O'Connell.

Victorian small business commissioner Judy O’Connell.

Victorian small business commissioner Judy O'Connell  says her office has seen an uptick in complaints from businesses who have left it to late to switch to the NBN.

"When the D-Day comes when the ADSL line gets cuts off, this can be daunting for a business that relies on eftpos and the internet," O'Connell says.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is also informing users about the need to plan a switch early.

"Check with your retail service provider whether you need to move your landline and internet services to the NBN. Find out your disconnection date," the commission says in a guide on the issue.

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