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Strong telecommunications performance in March quarter.



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MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND THE ARTS THE HON DARYL WILLIAMS AM QC MP

NEWS RELEASE

9 July 2004 104/04

Strong telecommunications performance in March quarter Australian consumers continue to get good fault repair and connection services, according to the latest telecommunications performance bulletin from the Australian Communications Authority (ACA).

However, there have been problems with Telstra’s fault and service difficulties call centre, which only managed to answer 39 per cent of calls within a 15 second timeframe in the March quarter.

The ACA’s quarterly performance bulletin reports industry performance against the regulatory standards set out in the Howard Government’s Customer Service Guarantee (CSG). The CSG sets minimum standards for installation and fault rectification and it applies to all telecommunications companies, including Telstra.

According to the ACA, the major carriers maintained high levels of fault repair in the March quarter despite the extreme weather conditions experienced over this period, particularly in New South Wales and Queensland.

The report shows that 97 per cent of Telstra and Optus phone connections occurred within CSG timeframes where infrastructure was already installed at the premises. On a national basis, new service connection performance was also high for both carriers, with Telstra recording 92 per cent compliance and Optus recording 98.9 per cent.

While Telstra’s national fault repair performance dropped slightly to 88 per cent in the March quarter, this was comparable with seasonal reductions experienced in 2002 and 2003. In rural areas it achieved 90 per cent compliance.

Optus, whose customers predominantly reside in urban areas, achieved a very strong national result, with 98 per cent of faults repaired within CSG timeframes.

In relation to the performance of Telstra’s fault and service difficulties call centre, the carrier has advised that issues relating to the low call answering rate were due to the roll-out of new reporting systems and an increased level of fault reports due to extreme weather conditions. Telstra says these issues have now been resolved and call centre performance is tracking closer to usual levels.

The Government will continue to monitor Telstra’s call centre performance closely and will consider its options if performance is not improved in the next quarter.

And the reliability of Telstra’s fixed phone network continues to be closely monitored by the ACA under the Government’s Network Reliability Framework (NRF).

Overall, I am pleased that the latest bulletin shows that 99.02 per cent of services around Australia did not experience a fault between January to April 2004.

The March 2004 quarter Bulletin is available on the ACA’s website at www.aca.gov.au

Media Contact: Carina Tan-Van Baren (02) 6277 7480/ 0439 425 373