Can a Telstra customer pre-order NBN when it’s coming?

For thirteen years my Internet speed has been stalled at five to six megabits per second. It was inevitable that all private investment was cease once the NBN was announced. But, finally, the NBN is coming to my home and office. A couple of weeks ago workers installed an NBN box a hundred and twenty metres up the street from my place.

Trying to pre-order NBN

I got excited. Since I’m a longstanding Telstra customer, I thought I’d ask what the plan options were. I used the Chat facility at the Telstra website. From the transcript (I’ve changed the name of the Telstra online sales specialist to “Fred”):

Fred: This is Fred, your Telstra online sales specialist, how can I help you?

Me: Hi, NBN is finally arriving in my suburb in May. I am currently a Telstra Broadband customer. I was wondering what plans are available, at what speeds.

Fred: Hi there! That’s good news that NBN will come so soon. I’m happy to provide you with plan options and speed tiers. Sounds good?

After some toing and froing, I settled on Tier 50. It’s overpriced and all that, and I have had issues with Telstra before, but I’m lazy and I think I’d have to pay out my most recent contract if I changed providers. So, why not pre-order NBN? Fred sets it up. At one point in the chat:

Me: Now, before proceeding, I would like the price to be adjusted. I do not need a new modem, and that’s what’s included in the price I believe.

Me: Back to the modem thing. I already have an excellent D-Link Cobra modem/router which is NBN ready. (I also have a Telstra Gateway Max.) So it’d be great if I didn’t have to pay an amount to include the cost of another unnecessary modem.

That was Friday last week (the 22nd of March 2019).

Things go wrong

The following Tuesday the new modem turns up. Of course. It looked like my NBN pre-order was going swimmingly. I decided to just add the new modem to the other two Telstra modems that have been unnecessarily sent to me in recent years.

Later that day I get a text from Telstra saying I should call them to ‘progress the order’. The NBN pre-order, I assumed. But I’m busy. I get a call from Telstra on Wednesday just as I’m about to get on a plane. I promise to call them back that evening, which I do. They are wondering why I am asking to get another ADSL line put into my home. They’ve noticed I already have one. Do I want a second line?

I explain that, no, I don’t want a second one. But, yes, I’m a customer and that NBN is starting 1 May I’ve been told. The contract was to connect to that as soon as possible. The chap goes away to consult. He comes back. He has spoken to the NBN team. He says that the NBN connection process can’t be started until I’ve been contacted by NBN. I query why the other guy seemed okay setting me up, but that didn’t go anywhere.

So I asked, who will contact me? The way he referred to the NBN sounded to me like he was talking about the NBN company itself contacting me. But my understanding is that NBN doesn’t talk to customers, everything is done through the retailer. In this case Telstra. So I asked, did he mean that NBN itself would contact me, or a Telstra NBN team.