Report assesses fault repair performance

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Australian carriers' fault repair performance in the June 2003 quarter was varied -- while some areas showed improvement, others declined or remained static -- according to an Australian Communications Authority report.

According to John Neil, executive manager of the Telecommunications Analysis Group, the report, Telecommunications Performance Monitoring Bulletin, found that, during the quarter, Telstra's performance in national fault rectification in rural and remote areas against Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) timeframes improved, but in urban areas it remained poor.

Released on 30 September, the report found that Optus' national fault rectification and new service connection performance declined from 90 to 87 per cent and from 92 to 89 per cent respectively.

Primus reported continued improvements in performance for new connections in urban and major rural areas.

“It's a mixed result,” Neil said.

Against CSG new connection timeframes, Telstra's performance continued to exceed 90 per cent nationally. Performance at the state and territory level ranged from 80 to 100 per cent. At a national aggregate level, 99.8 per cent of all new connection activity was completed within the CSG timeframes plus five days.

According to the Australian Communications Authority (ACA), a total of 14 mass service disruption (MSD) notices were declared by Telstra during the June quarter, one less than for the corresponding period last year. The percentage of service activity covered by the MSDs was slightly higher at 3.3 percent nationally, compared with 2 percent at the same time last year. Torrential rain and electrical storms were the main cause of the disruptions. Optus reported that extensions due to MSDs were applied to 6.1 per cent of fault repair activity in the quarter.

Neil said that Telstra's performance had been affected by poor weather conditions and implementation problems with the pilot of their future edge software upgrade -- a new work management system -- particularly in country Victoria and Queensland.

However, Dr Bob Horton, acting chairman of the ACA said in a press release that a number of these pilot problems had been addressed by Telstra and “with other remedial action, this resulted in some progressive improvement during the quarter”.

Network Reliability Framework (NRF), which was introduced by the ACA in January this year, measures the reliability of Telstra's telephone services and requires Telstra to take action to prevent individual services from exceeding a nominated number of faults.

Analysis of Telstra's NRF by the ACA showed that less than one telephone service in every 100 experienced one or more faults each month in the period from January to August 2003, according to the press release. Performance was slightly better in city areas compared with non-city areas.

Telstra must also report to the ACA on exchange service areas (ESAs) where a nominated number of services experience one or more faults in each of two successive months.

“On average, about 4 per cent of Telstra's 5,000 ESAs have reached NRF reporting thresholds each month. This does not necessarily indicate poor performance, but enables the ACA to monitor and determine whether remedial action is needed,” Horton said.

When asked what the ACA was hoping to see in the next report, Neil said it was looking for continued improvement in Telstra's urban fault rectification performance but said, as Horton's comments had intimated, this area was already showing improvement.


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