Hundreds of thousands of Australians are grappling with an unexpected issue due to a major internet provider’s decision. TPG Telecom plans to close its in-house email service, potentially leaving users with the choice of paying for a new service or losing years of stored emails and contacts.

TPG Telecom, which runs TPG, iinet, internode, and Westnet, announced that users will need to switch to a different email service provided by The Messaging Company by mid-September. The reason given is to focus more on their main services like internet and mobile. TPG has promised to cover the first year’s fees for users moving to The Messaging Company, but after September 2024, users will likely have to pay themselves.

Alternatively, users can opt for free email services like Google or Microsoft, but this could mean giving up access to their older emails and contacts. TPG, with its 5.3 million mobile and 2.2 million fixed broadband customers, hasn’t revealed how many customers will be affected.

This transition has raised concerns, especially from long-term users like Sean Tomlinson, who relies on his TPG email for work and bill payments since 2006. He’s unhappy about being forced to pay for continued access to his old emails and believes this infringes on his privacy.

This change could disproportionately impact older or less tech-savvy users, similar to Google’s previous decision to close “inactive” accounts due to security reasons. This change affected accounts across various Google platforms like Docs, Drive, Meet, Calendar, and Photos.

In response, TPG is actively assisting customers in moving their emails, contacts, and calendars to The Messaging Company. Customers have 42 days to switch to the new service before risking permanent loss of access. The Messaging Company hasn’t given details about costs post-September 2024, aiming for a free, ad-supported option or competitive prices.