ISPs Now Have An Incentive Not To Install Your NBN Battery Backup

Your NBN installation might have become cheaper in the last six weeks, but there's a good reason behind that -- it's also now a little less reliable. ISPs are being encouraged not to include the battery backup in your NBN install, which leaves your next-generation broadband network unable to provide voice telephone service in the case of a power outage.

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According to iTnews, ISPs are being offered incentives not to include the optional battery backup system with each NBN installation contract they sign with customers, with new connections signed since the start of August apparently being eligible for the scheme.

In the submission to the ACCC from 11 July, the value of each credit is not laid out. It is clear, though, that there is now a reason in place for ISPs to delete the redundant power supply from new customers' NBN installations -- it is cheaper for everyone, at the cost of a more fragile network that is less resilient to power outages.

Those outages, too, are generally cases in which phone service is more crucial than usual -- for example, for calling emergency services. Priority assistance customers, like those on life support or with life-threatening medical conditions, will still receive battery backups as standard as part of their installations. An NBN Co document intended for ISPs called 'Voice On The NBN' details the purpose of a battery backup, which provides enough reserve power for the telephone lines in NBN network terminals within customers' homes for around 5 hours in the case of a power outage.

Battery backup means telephony services will continue to work for approximately 5 hours (including the emergency reserve) in the event of a loss of power, retaining one of the key benefits of PSTN solutions today. Battery Backup is selectable in some cases, however there are specific requirements for end user informed consent concerning battery backup that need to be followed.

A battery backup service on the NBN provides peace of mind for your customers that require continued telephone capability for a limited time in the event of a power outage or loss of power.

In reality, a battery-free installation could be cheaper for end users-- the battery itself is a 12V 7A lead acid unit, which would set you back about $30 from Jaycar -- but the real incentive is from NBN Co to its retail ISP customers, which can lower the price of installation costs while also getting a credit for each battery backup system they don't on-sell.

The ACCC also recently committed to not getting in the way of NBN Co rival TPG's own rollout of fibre to the basement of up to 500,000 premises around Australia, with the telco building its own dedicated fibre network serving large apartment blocks.

The controversy between TPG and NBN Co was that the level playing field provisions in NBN legislature prevent any competitor to the government-owned organisation building a equally capable network to residential or small business customers, without at the same time opening that network up wholesale to competitor ISPs. TPG, though, has been saved by its skirting of a caveat in the provision that stated existing networks from the start of 2011 would not be subject to level playing field provisions, and those networks could be expanded by up to a kilometre from their existing footprints without running foul of the laws. [iTnews]

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