As millions of Australians prepare to move their Internet services to the new NBN, there are still many who need a home phone line bundled in with their internet plan. If this is you, but you’re having trouble understanding the big changes happening to your landline, don’t worry; this article aims to answer all of your questions.
Once you have switched to the NBN, your phone service (if you choose to have one, it’s not mandatory) will also be connected via the NBN, and the old copper phone lines will be disconnected entirely.
There are two possibilities of getting home phone calls via NBN: UNI-V or Fibre Phone VoIP Services, and UNI-D VoIP services.
Keep in mind that not all providers offer both options, and one of these options, is not available on every NBN connection.
THINGS TO KNOW:
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services convert the audio signals of a phone call into digital data that travels over the internet. VoiP lets you call any landline or mobile number, but you will be using your internet connection to do so.
UNI-D VoIP works when using the data port -- marked UNI-D -- on a compatible VoIP modem-router. You might also connect with a VoIP adaptor connected to your existing telephone socket or an ATA (analogue telephone adaptor) connected to your NBN Connection Box.
UNI-V (also known as Fibre Phone or NBN Phone) uses the voice port marked with UNI-V on your NBN connection box. Only Fibre-to-the-Premises connections will have the NBN connection box installed.
Frequently asked questions
1. When will the old copper phone lines be disconnected?
As part of the NBN rollout plan, the existing copper phone lines will be switched off 18 months after your home is connected to the NBN.
This means that some homes are already disconnected, while others will still access the old for several more years. It all depends on when the NBN comes to your neighbourhood.
2. What are the main differences between UNI-D and UNI-V?
The main difference between these two options is the type of port you will use to connect your handset. If you use a UNI-D port you will plug your handset into a VoiP compatible modem-router – which your provider will be able to send to you.
If on the other hand, you are connected to NBN Fibre-to-the-Premises you also have the option to plug your phone directly into a UNI-V port on the NBN Connection Box installed in your home.
If your NBN technology is Fibre-to-the-Node, Fibre-to-the-Building, Hybrid-Fibre-Coaxial (HFC), Fixed Wireless or NBN Satellite, a UNI-D VoIP service will be your only VoIP option to make calls at home, other than a mobile phone. We should also point out that homes connecting to the NBN via Fixed Wireless or Satellite will continue to use the old copper phone lines for home phone lines for the foreseeable future.
Customers connected to Fibre-to-the-premises, will be able to choose between a UNI-V or UNI-D service. If using a UNI-V VoIP, you will have dedicated bandwidth for voice traffic which means calls do not have to compete with internet traffic.
Another important difference is that if you are using a UNI-D VoiP service and the internet connection is down, the VoIP service will be down as well. We suggest if you are using this service, you have a mobile phone with you at home or an emergency mobile phone in case of a blackout.
Unlike the UNI-D VoIP services, with Uni-V If you have or choose to have a backup battery unit with your NBN Box, you will be able to keep making calls for about four hours if there is a blackout.
3. What are the benefits of using a VoIP service?
When purchasing a VoIP plan, you will be able to enjoy the same features as your landline phone service such as caller ID, voicemail, etc. Just keep in mind that some providers might charge more for these options.
Plans on VoIP are normally cheaper than traditional phones since you would not have to pay extra for the line rental. For example, some providers like TPG or Mate Communicate include unlimited calls to landlines and mobile phones within Australia for no additional cost, other providers such as Teleron will charge $10 extra per month to get unlimited calls to both mobile and landlines. In most cases, you will find that providers offer PAYG voice packs where you pay for the amount of calls done per month.
If you choose Fibre Phone, even though you will be charged for calls at VoIP rates, this service could be a bit more expensive than UNI-D VoIP. Some providers charge an additional $20 per month instead of the $10 charged with the other type of VoIP service.In most cases Fibre Phone plans include features such as Caller ID and voicemail at no extra cost.
4. Is the quality better on VoIP?
Quality depends on your internet provider. Some may offer high definition voice, which provides clearer sound quality.
Quality will be better if you can use a UNI-V port as it accesses its own bandwidth of on the NBN network, rather than sharing capacity with other internet activity. So even if all your neighbours are surfing the web at the same time, UNI-V traffic will be unaffected.
5. Can I continue using my existing number?
Yes, in most cases the provider can transfer your existing phone number. Otherwise you will be allocated a new local phone number. Please note providers may charge you for porting your existing number.
6. Do I need an unlimited data plan if I want to use VoIP?
VoIP does not require a lot of data. As a very general guide, talking on VoIP for 1 hour consecutively would consume approximately 30MB of data. An unlimited data plan is useful, but not essential.
7. Will my medical alarm, security alarm and Emergency calls work on VoIP?
If you currently have other devices connected to your landline such as emergency alert systems, security alarms or EFTPOS machines, it is important that you contact your device provider before switching to the NBN. Depending on the type of device that you have, you will also need to register the device with NBN Co. Make sure you confirm the type of NBN service that is required and that your device has been tested to confirm it works.
Be aware, triple zero (000) emergency calls can be made on a VoIP service, but if there is a power outage then your VoiP service will not work, as it requires power from your modem. We recommend you have access to a mobile phone so that you can always call for help when you need to.
8. I do not need internet, what can I do?
If you are looking for a phone-only service as you do not need to use the internet for anything else, there are some providers offering voice plans such as Telstra, AusBBS, ACE Internet Services.
For example, Telstra has different plans starting at $25.95/month with 30c local calls. It is not clear if Telstra will provide a VoIP compatible modem-router or VoIP adaptor.
Standalone voice plans could be a little bit more expensive than most of the other VoIP services, but will give you the opportunity to choose a voice-only plan.
If you have any other questions about VoiP, or the NBN in general, please leave us a comment below.