Fri, 31 Jan 2020 - 16:22
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Media Release: NRS Helpdesk open to support CapTel switchover

The National Relay Service (NRS) Helpdesk is operating this weekend to support new arrangements for CapTel handset users as they complete their migration to alternative services.

The NRS Helpdesk can be contacted this weekend between 8am to 4pm (AEDT) and on weekdays between 7am and 5pm (AEDT).

Phone: 1800 555 660

TTY: 1800 555 630

Fax:  1800 555 690

SMS: 0416 001 350

Email: [email protected]

Extensive training, information and transition support has been offered and provided over recent months to several hundred recently active CapTel handset users. Training and support including in-home assistance will continue to be available over coming weeks to any CapTel user needing personalised support to understand the many different options available, and to be trained in the use of the option which best meets the user’s needs.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said “I certainly acknowledge any transition of this kind is challenging, particularly for older Australians who may not be as familiar with technology.”

“The NRS Helpdesk will be operating this weekend to support CapTel handset users and I encourage anyone who needs assistance or would like more information on alternative NRS services to contact the Helpdesk,” Minister Fletcher said. 

The NRS provides vital services allowing people who are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech impairment to make and receive phone calls via NRS Captions, which delivers captions on a smartphone, computer or tablet whilst the user speaks on a telephone, or via Speak and Read on a teletypewriter (TTY). 

Other alternatives to CapTel include Skype Captions, transcription apps such as Live Transcribe, and the Konnekt video handset. Information on all of the options available can be obtained from the NRS Helpdesk.

From 1 February 2020, the CapTel handset is no longer being supported from the NRS and will no longer show captioning. The switchover was necessary following the US-based owner of the proprietary technology, Ultratec, declining to enter into new arrangements with the new NRS provider, Concentrix. The Government remains open to Ultratec making its technology available.

The transition of NRS services away from the incumbent provider, Australian Communications Exchange, commenced in November 2019, with successive services moving across to the new provider Concentrix since that time. The Government has closely monitored service levels as the transition has occurred, and will continue to do so.

Concentrix was awarded the $22 million fully-funded contract to provide the NRS services following a competitive tender process. Concentrix is providing a wider range of services than was previously the case, and its technology can be delivered over mobiles and tablets as well as fixed line devices, giving more options for users.  

Concentrix employs more than 130 people to provide the NRS, operating from call centres in Brisbane and Ballarat. Minister Fletcher yesterday toured the Ballarat call centre and met with staff: https://www.communications.gov.au/departmental-news/minister-fletcher-visits-nrs-ballarat-call-centre