Hundreds of households, small businesses ‘lose’ phone numbers during NBN migration

TIO recommends RSPs tweak migration process

New research released by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman has highlighted complaints from households and small businesses migrating to the National Broadband Network that have unexpectedly lost their fixed-line phone number.

Between July and December, the organisation received 661 complaints relating to the issue. Those complaints are likely to represent only a fraction of the businesses and residential consumers affected, the TIO said.

In most cases, the “lost” number can be retrieved, the TIO said. However, it added: “Retrieval can take time and be disruptive for a residential consumer or small business. Sometimes the number can be permanently lost.”

Sometimes the problem relates to consumer inaction — for example failing to apply to migrate to the NBN before the copper network is switched off in their area, providing incomplete or incorrect number transfer details, or cancelling an existing service before migration is completed.

In other cases, the issue is on the provider side, the TIO said — with common reasons including staff and system errors, a provider disconnecting a service before the NBN connection is completed (if a consumer is changing providers during the migration), as well as the “Increased complexity of NBN connections requiring interaction with the existing copper network”.

The telco complaints watchdog made a series of recommendations for retail service providers to help minimise the problem, including making a number of modifications to the customer order processes, such as requiring consumers to opt-out of keeping their existing number following the transition to the new network (instead of opting-in).

The TIO said that retail service providers should also ensure that their advice for consumers about the copper network switch-off date for a particular area is consistent with NBN’s data, as well as ensure that they have procedures in place to make sure that there is an active NBN connection at a residence before switching off an existing fixed-line phone service.

The TIO also recommended that RSPs improve their communication between each other to reduce the loss of numbers as well as make it easier to retrieve disconnected numbers.

“Loss of phone numbers during an NBN migration can be a stressful experience for consumers and small businesses,” shadow communications minister Michelle Rowland said.

“It is encouraging to see the TIO put a spotlight on this issue as there remains sensible scope for improvements in how retailers manage this process,” the Labor MP said.

The federal government is currently considering changes to telecommunications complaints handling that may see significant changes to the mandate of the TIO or even its replacement.

Join the newsletter!


Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags TelecommunicationsNational Broadband Network (NBN)Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO)

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Rohan Pearce

Rohan Pearce

Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Luke Hill


I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?