NBN medical alarm users at risk

The Labor Party has raised the possibility that NBN users may be in danger during the forthcoming fire season if their phone services are running off the beleaguered network.

A statement from Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Shadow Health Minister Catherine King said the new fire chief in Western Australia had recently warned that phone services that were running off the NBN could be exposed during an emergency.

Labor pointed to advice on the NBN web site stating that the Fibre-to-the-Node (FTTN) network could not be relied on during a power outage.

“Equipment connected over the NBN network will not work during a power blackout,” the NBN website explains. “An exception is if you have Fibre to the Premises (FTTP) with battery backup, in which case you will get up to five hours of power, provided the battery has been correctly maintained.”

The statement explained that the increased exposure of the multi-technology mix to power outages could affect vulnerable Australians, particularly the elderly, whose medical alarm devices often depend on a working phone service through their fixed-line connection.

Ms Rowland and Ms King said Labor was concerned that, despite known risks, vulnerable users of non-monitored medical alarms continued to be excluded from the NBN medical alarm subsidy scheme.

The decision by NBN Co to exclude non-monitored alarms will have a disproportionate impact on low-income Australians and pensioners – many of whom, they explained, simply cannot afford to spend an extra $480 per year on a monitored alarm service.

“Malcolm Turnbull has been advised that the Fibre to the Node and HFC network he is deploying will not work during a power outage,” Ms Rowland said.

“This is no longer speculation – it is stated in black and white on the NBN website.”

“These two networks are expected to reach 7.7 million Australian households and it beggars belief the Turnbull Government has dragged this issue on for more than four years.”

Do you think users of non-monitored medical alarms should be included on the medical alarm subsidy scheme? Are you concerned about migrating across to the NBN service because of these risks?


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