Ask LH: Can Telstra Force Me Onto An NBN Plan If I Don’t Want To Go?

Dear Lifehacker, My street was recently joined to the great and wonderful NBN (slight sarcasm there.) Telstra has since informed me that I need to move my internet and phone across as it won’t be supported in its existing state. I’ve got no problem with this, but it got me examining other telco’s NBN deals and comparing prices.

I’m still under a 24-month contract — or am I? If I stick with Telstra, I’d essentially be signing a new contract (which they’re happy to do because it keeps me as their customer) but am I still obligated if Telstra is effectively terminating the service I signed up for? Cheers, ISP Curious

Dear ISP Curious,

This is why it pays to read the terms and conditions before signing a contract. Somewhere in that never-ending wall of text, there would have been a clause that looked something like this:

If your plan is no longer available for new customers, we may roll your service over to a different plan which is reasonably comparable or require you to move to any other current plan. We will tell you before this happens.

In other words, Telstra plainly laid out this scenario before you signed up. When you became a customer, you agreed to abide by the aforementioned solution in the event that your plan was discontinued.

There’s a reason broadband contracts are so wordy and detailed — they’re designed to offer maximum protection to the service provider. Otherwise, customers would be wriggling out of their contracts whenever a better deal came along (which clearly defeats the purpose of having a contract in the first place.)

With that said, Telstra’s customer terms for internet products and services also states the following (emphasis ours):

Transferring to the National Broadband Network (NBN)

If the NBN fibre network comes to your area, we’ll take responsibility for managing your transfer to this new network…We’ll work with you to make this as simple as possible, but we may need to cancel your plan if you don’t want to move across. We’ll let you know the details before any changes happen.

This is interesting. If you refuse to be migrated to the NBN and Telstra is forced to cancel your plan, it can’t keep charging you for a service it no longer provides. We’ve contacted Telstra for clarification on this issue and will update the article when we hear back.

In any event, because Telstra is instigating the plan swap, your existing contract should remain intact rather than starting anew. So you don’t have to wait a full two years before shopping around for a better deal.

Update: We just heard back from Telstra. The telco said that when the NBN arrives in an area, locals have 18 months to migrate their fixed phone and internet services to the new network, with Telstra or another ISP, before they are required to start disconnecting copper based services in that area.

Telstra customers can move to the NBN service on the new network and remain on their existing plan (i.e. in the majority of cases a customer will not need to enter into a new service contract in order to move onto the NBN.)

A customer will however also have the option of moving to the NBN with Telstra on one of the new plans or offers. In this scenario the customer would usually sign up to a new 24 month contract. 

The best thing to do is call 1800 TFIBRE to talk to a specialist NBN consultant. Hope this helps!


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