nbn – what to do in an emergency

Do you rely on your landline for communication?

Australia is currently undergoing a digital transformation from a predominantly copper network, to the national rollout of the Multi Technology Mix (MTM), predominantly on a fibre network. This will affect the way you currently use your landline, particularly in a power outage.

Why the change to the telecommunications network?

At nbn, our goal is simple. To deliver Australia’s first national wholesale-only, open access phone and internet network to Australians. The nbn™ access network is a modern, high performing network designed to enable the phone and internet services that homes and businesses now consider as essential, just like water or electricity.

The existing telecommunications network is not universally fit for this purpose, as it was largely built at a time before our lifestyles were heavily reliant on the internet. With this comes a change to the way telecommunications have operated in the past in Australia, moving from a predominantly copper network to a predominantly fibre network – for 93% of Australian premises.

This change is essential for Australia to be competitive globally. We’ll see how much can be achieved when all Australians have access to fast and reliable internet. It will also greatly benefit the economy, health and government services and businesses nationwide.

What happens in a power blackout?

Some safety-critical devices like medical alarms, fire alarms and lift emergency phones may not be compatible with the nbn™ access network at all times, including during a power blackout.

In addition, all types of landline phones (cordless phones, as well as older style un-powered corded phones) will not work in a power outage. This is because the nbn™ access network requires power at both the exchange and within the home or business to operate.

This is a key difference to the existing copper network which only requires power at one end (within the exchange) to enable the charge required for a landline phone to function.

While the nbn™ access network has in-built power resiliency in parts, it’s not within nbn’s control to guarantee power at both ends of the network at all times– including within the millions of homes and businesses across Australia.

A key consideration is that your electronic equipment (such as modems, cordless phones, TVs and Wi-Fi routers) connected over the nbn™ access network will also need separate battery backup to work in a power outage.

A number of factors influence the resiliency of the nbn™ access network to provide uninterrupted services during a power outage. Even with network power resiliency and in-premises battery backup, power outages may last longer than the battery life.

nbn recommends homes and businesses are always prepared to be without landline phone and internet services for a period of time.

Preparing for an emergency

Where the nbn™ access network is affected, nbn will prioritise reconnecting essential services, such as hospitals, fire, police and emergency services. Community infrastructure will also be included with traffic management, sewerage, power and water utilities a high priority.

We will also work to prioritise the reconnection of business services essential to community recovery, such as banks, petrol stations and supermarkets.

An emergency may trigger a power outage. If you require a safety critical device such as a medical alarm, fire alarm or lift emergency phone to work during a power outage, nbn recommends you speak to the supplier of that device about the best solution for ongoing service continuity.

Prepare an emergency kit

nbn recommend that you put together an emergency kit which includes equipment (like a charged mobile phone) that can be used in the event that there is a power outage, or if your connection to the nbn™ access network is disrupted.

Equipment connected over the nbn™ access network will not work during a power blackout. Electronic equipment connected to the nbn™ access network needs its own separate battery backup to work in a power outage. Examples of devices requiring separate battery backup include your modem, cordless phone, or gateway/Wi-Fi router. This is not provided by nbn.

A number of factors influence the resiliency of the nbn™ access network to continue to provide uninterrupted services during a power outage. Even with network power resiliency and in-premises battery backup, power outages may last longer than the battery life. Therefore, we recommend you are always prepared to be without landline phone and internet services for some time.

nbn™ access network outages

Unplanned or unexpected outages to your nbn™ access network connection can occur for many reasons, such as severe storms, cyclones, bushfires, car accidents, or trees or branches falling onto power lines.

nbn understands the inconvenience unplanned outages can cause to users. This is why we have an emergency response team dedicated to preparing for, and responding to, the recovery of the network in emergencies.

nbn have worked with local authorities and emergency services to identify high risk areas, and buildings of importance like hospitals. We are constantly working to make sure our network is as resilient as possible. With this in mind, we are consistently undertaking work such as vegetation clearance around sites in high risk bushfire and cyclone areas, checking seals on cabinets in flood prone areas, and the stocking of operational vehicles with the agreed levels of network spares and the required tools and equipment. This will ensure we are ready to respond should an emergency arise.

Where possible, nbn will deploy temporary network infrastructure into areas where extended outage durations are anticipated. This infrastructure is designed to provide temporary backup to support emergency services and the community. Its allocation will be based on the network infrastructure available and be on a best efforts basis.

Power supply and outages

For power supply and outages, please contact your energy provider.

If you have a medical alarm, fire alarm or lift emergency phone, we recommend you contact your device provider, and your phone or internet provider to enquire about the operation of these services in a power outage.

Premises within nbn™ Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster™ satellite areas will have the choice to keep their existing landline phone service over the copper network active, or switch over to a VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service on the nbn™ access network through a preferred phone and internet provider – connecting your new phone via the nbn™ supplied equipment.

Consider keeping your copper service active in nbn™ Fixed Wireless and Sky Muster™ satellite areas if you rely on landline phone services in emergency situations. Your phone and internet provider can assist with your services

For questions about power outages, and device compatibility with the nbn™ access network, visit the nbn device compatibility guide.

nbn Australia

nbn Australia

Delivering the technology and infrastructure for all Australians to realise their dreams and discover new possibilities in a connected world.

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