Telstra will be forced to repair copper lines used for vital voice services much faster and to keep a higher inventory of spare parts handy after a review last year that was critical of its handling of faults.
CEO Andy Penn and the government laid out changes today that effectively force Telstra to conduct repairs in regional and remote areas faster than they are required to under the customer service guarantee (CSG).
The changes are a response to last year’s Regional Telecommunications Review, which was highly critical of Telstra’s approach to fixing faults.
“The committee was appalled to hear some of the excessive repair times for landline services, which extended through weeks and even months in some cases,” it said in its report to government.
“Telstra complied with the customer service guarantee benchmark, however, ... there were more than 8500 businesses and families with a service that wasn’t repaired in the required timeframe.”
The review committee said that the landline disruption was exacerbated for many because they were out of mobile range, and therefore left without any connection.
The government still hasn’t formally responded to the review - this is expected to occur before the end of the month.
However, the Minister for Regional Services and Deputy Leader of the Nationals, Bridget McKenzie, jointly announced the action by Telstra in response to the review’s findings.
Under the new work committed by Telstra, it will repair and replace “around 1000 cable joints - and where necessary the cable itself - on the worst performing cables” in Australia.
It will replace “around 200 batteries in exchange and roadside cabinets where mains power failures are more frequent.”
It will also “increase stocks of pair gain units (approximately 800) to reduce repair time delays caused by having to wait for parts.”
“Telstra have already started work on its expanded plan and will keep the Government updated on progress,” McKenzie said in a statement.
“At completion of the expanded plan, Telstra will regularly monitor regional customer fault times on aged lines.”
Telstra CEO Andy Penn said that while Telstra met “the standards required [of it], there are still some customers who have to wait longer than they should for a service to be restored.”
“I understand the frustration this can cause, particularly where there are no other options,” he said.
“We are therefore expanding our regional maintenance plan further to address the primary sources of regional faults – so we can provide a better, more reliable service for our customers.”