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Priority phone services.



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Priority phone services

The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, today welcomed Telstra's announcement of the final arrangements to apply to the provision of 'priority assistance' to eligible retail residential customers. The new arrangements respond to a licence condition imposed on Telstra by the Government earlier this year.

The arrangements are designed to maximise phone service continuity for people who have a diagnosed life-threatening medical condition and who are at risk of suffering a rapid, life-threatening deterioration in their condition. The priority service arrangements require Telstra to repair faults and provide new connections to priority customers within 24 hours (48 hours in remote areas).

Telstra's priority assistance phone service arrangements are an important enhancement for Australians living with certain life-threatening medical conditions. Telstra has dedicated considerable resources to provide eligible customers with faster service connection and fault repair.

The priority phone service arrangements have been developed following close consultations between the Government, Telstra, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia. The Government thanks Telstra and the medical profession for the manner in which the new arrangements have been developed and implemented.

Customers wishing to access Telstra's priority assistance arrangements will need to complete an application form which will involve either a doctor's certificate or a statutory declaration where it is not possible to obtain a doctor's certificate.

The arrangements are designed to target those people with the greatest need and ensure Telstra's resources are not over stretched, thus rendering priority assistance ineffective.

The Government has established comprehensive consumer safeguards to ensure all Australians have equitable access to a reliable standard telephone service. For the small group of people who, by reason of a diagnosed life-threatening medical condition, are more reliant on their telephone, Telstra's priority assistance arrangements will provide an even higher level of service assurance.

Telstra, as the universal service provider for all of Australia, will be obliged to make this

 

service available to all customers upon request, subject to meeting eligibility criteria. There will be no additional fee for the service for eligible customers.

These arrangements will take effect from 30 September 2002 - in the meantime the existing interim arrangements will continue to apply. Further details of Telstra's priority assistance arrangements are available on Telstra's website www.telstra.com.au or by calling 13 2200.

Media contact: David Quilty 02 6277 7480 or 0419 421 803 Website: www.richardalston.dcita.gov.au

211/02 17 September 2002