Thursday, 06 September 2018 05:08

NBN Co changes stance on unmonitored medical alarms Featured

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NBN Co changes stance on unmonitored medical alarms Alert Response

The NBN Co, the company rolling out Australia's national broadband network, the NBN, says it will offer additional support for unmonitored medical alarm users who get connected to the network.

In a statement, the company said: "Under the ‘Unmonitored Medical Alarm Upgrade Offer’, eligible people can obtain an upgraded medical alarm at a discounted price of up to of 80% off the normal price – to a maximum of $300 off, from participating alarm suppliers."

It said owners (or carers on their behalf) should register unmonitored medical alarms in NBN Co’s Medical Alarm Register.

"NBN Co will contact registered medical alarm users when their home is ready to be connected to the network. They will get advice about potential compatibility issues with their unmonitored medical alarm and their options to upgrade, or speak to their existing alarm supplier about continuing to use their existing alarm, before their current phone service is switched off."

Labor Shadow Communications Minister Michelle Rowland and Shadow Minister for Health and Medicare Catherine King welcomed the company's decision.

In a statement, they said Labor had been asking the NBN Co since 2016 to reconsider its 2015 decision to exclude unmonitored alarms from the medical alarm subsidy scheme.

"The source of concern was that the copper and HFC technology currently being deployed cannot support landline phone services during a power outage," Rowland and King said.

"In comparison, the NBN websites notes with fibre-to-the-premises (FttP) a battery back-up unit could support phone services for up to five hours during a power outage," they said.

"This meant the multi-technology mix presented a higher risk profile for vulnerable, usually elderly, Australians who rely on medical alarms connected to a phone line for their personal well-being and safety."

Rowland and King said it was unclear as to why Communications Minister Mitch Fifield had sat on this known issue for two years.

"The decision to reverse that stance will provide additional comfort and assurance to Australians migrating to the NBN who rely on this equipment," they said.

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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