How the NBN will affect your medical alarm

Why do I need to switch to the NBN?
The National Broadband Network (NBN) is currently being rolled out across Australia and is expected to be completed by 2020. Approximately 18 months after the NBN is installed in your local area, the existing landline and ADSL broadband services will be switched off. People who use medical devices that work by accessing a landline or internet connection will need to have switched over to the new network with their service provider to access services.

The NBN is a much-needed upgrade to the existing and outdated network infrastructure. The purpose of the upgrade is to install a new, supercharged network that will deliver a faster broadband service into the future.

How will the NBN change affect my medical alarm monitoring?
The NBN involves the installation of new technologies that some existing medical devices may not be compatible with. Users of monitored and unmonitored (autodialling) medical devices and alarm buttons that are incompatible may find that their devices don’t work on the NBN.

For this reason, and to ensure a seamless transition without any potentially hazardous break in service, the NBN Co has setup a Medical Alarm Register (MAR) for medical device users to register their device and receive assistance to make the switch.

“We want users to have 3G compatible devices so there is a diverse path in the event of a power outage. For example, if there is a power outage and the NBN connection goes out, their alarm is able to switch over to the 3G network and still work,” says Philippa Perry, principal spokesperson at NBN Co.

What assistance will medical device users receive?
In July 2016, NBN Co launched the $100 million Medical Alarm Subsidy Scheme (MASS). The scheme provides subsidies to alarm companies so that they can help clients update to compatible devices at no cost. However, this scheme only covers medically compliant monitored devices, not unmonitored medical devices.

Unmonitored medical devices require the user or a loved one of the user to set off an alarm manually. These devices are used by a large number of Australians as a lower cost alternative to continually monitored medical devices.

What help will users of unmonitored medical devices get?
NBN Co has just announced a new trial that aims to help users cover the cost of updating unmonitored medical alarms when connecting to the NBN, should they be incompatible.

The company will now begin working with key manufacturers of medical devices and a trial group of 400 eligible medical alarm users to refine its processes before it announces details of a new assistance program in the second half of 2018. “We want to ensure all our systems and processes are operating correctly before we expand it out to the full medical device user base,” says Perry.

What other help will medical device users get from NBN Co?
Those on the Medical Alarm Register (MAR) will be contacted by representatives from NBN Co once to receive assistance and guidance about their medical devices they have been able to connect to the NBN access network. “Once users are ready to switch to the NBN, we are able to contact them and assist them through the migration process,” Perry says.

What steps should I take to access the initiatives?

  1. To access assistance from NBN Co, first register your medical alarm on the Medical Alarm Register. Visit: nbn.com.au/medicalregister or call 1800 227 300.
  2. Next, call your medical alarm, autodialler, or emergency call button provider to find out if your device is compatible with the NBN. If it’s not compatible, find out what you need to do to get one that is compatible (has 3G functionality).
  3. Then, call your internet or phone provider and tell them you will require Priority Assistance service for the NBN.
  4. Once you receive your medical device, check that your alarms are working properly after any changes have been made.
  5. Keep receipts for medical device purchases.

What questions should I ask my service provider about my device?

  • Will my device work properly when connected to the NBN?
  • Will my device be able to call out during a power outage when connected to the NBN?
  • Are there any additional fees to connect my device to the NBN?

For more information call 1800 687 626 or visit nbn.com.au/medicalalarms

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