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Tuesday, 25 November 2003
Page: 22862


Ms O'Byrne asked the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, upon notice, on 18 September 2003:

In respect of Telstra Pre-Paid Mobile services, is the Minister aware that customers have had difficulties accessing the network when the network is busy; if so, (a) when and how was the Minister advised of the problem, (b) what is the total number of reported instances of this problem, (c) what is Telstra doing to fix this problem, (d) what is the projected cost of addressing this problem, (e) how much has Telstra expended to date on addressing this problem, (f) when does Telstra expect that they will have this problem resolved in all areas, and (g) since the problem was discovered, which ten electoral divisions have reported the highest incidence of this problem as a percentage of all Telstra mobile telephone customers in those electoral divisions.


Mr Williams (Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts) —The answer to the honourable member's question is as follows:

Telstra advises that mobile networks are designed to ensure that sufficient capability is available to handle all reasonable traffic demand. Telstra advises that it has introduced special promotions, such as a 1 cent per minute promotion on the Communic8 Pre-Paid Mobile plan, in order to better utilise the network during periods when traffic is light, such as in the late evening and early morning. Telstra further advises that the promotion has been popular and resulted in network congestion during the peak period of the promotion between 9pm and 11pm. Telstra informs me that the terms and conditions of the promotion state that the offer is subject to network availability.

(a) Telstra advised me of the problem in response to this question on notice.

(b) Telstra advises that from time to time it receives complaints regarding congestion during promotional periods on the prepaid platform. Where it receives a complaint, Telstra examines network capacity in the area to ensure that it is sufficient to handle reasonable demand.

(c) Telstra advises that it continually monitors mobile network performance to ensure a high standard of network availability and call quality and, where necessary, upgrades its network to meet increasing call demands, as part of its normal network management practices.

(d) Telstra advises that the projected cost of network upgrades in 2002/03 and 2003/04 is $19.5 million.

(e) Telstra informs me that it spent nearly $10 million on network upgrades to its prepaid platform in 2002/03 and that it expects to allocate a further $9.5 million in 2003/04.

(f) Telstra advises that its network capacity has recently been increased in Queensland and Tasmania, with further works planned in Victoria and New South Wales. Telstra reiterated that it upgrades the network as required, to meet increasing call demands.

(g) Telstra advises that it cannot disaggregate customer complaints by electoral division, as its systems are not configured in this way.