Telstra fails to meet service specs, ACA investigates

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) announced this week that it will investigate the extent of Telstra's noncompliance with the customer service guarantee (CSG) standard following a decline in the carrier's service responsiveness.

ACA reported in its 'Telecommunications Performance Monitoring Bulletin' for the June 1999 quarter, released this week, that Telstra had failed to meet customer service guarantee standards in a number of areas.

According to the Bulletin, Telstra connected only 63 per cent of new services requested in urban areas without infrastructure, within one month -- the CSG standard timeframe.

This figure is 10 per cent down on the same quarter in 1998.

And Telstra met the CSG deadline to connect customers in major rural areas without infrastructure 56 per cent of the time in June 1999, compared with 62 per cent of the time in June 1998. The carrier met the CSG timeframe to supply new services to customers without available infrastructure in major rural areas in the northern territory 42 per cent of the time, and in Tasmania 47 per cent of the time in the June 1999 quarter, according to the bulletin.

These results led ACA chairman Tony Shaw to announce, "I am concerned with Telstra's continuing poor performance in the provision of new services, particularly in areas without ready access to infrastructure.

The ACA has decided to use its powers under the Telecommunications Act 1997 to investigate Telstra's poor performance in the provision of services against the CSG Standard."

The Minister for Communications, Senator Richard Alston, welcomed Shaw's announcement, commenting: "Telstra's June quarter performance is fundamentally unsatisfactory in key areas.

"The ACA has the government's full support in conducting its investigation.

The ACA now has the power to issue remedial directions to telephone companies for failing to satisfactorily meet minimum standards of service -- and the companies face fines of up to $10 million for failure to comply with such directions."

The ACA will also investigate whether Telstra has complied with its Universal Service Obligation (USO).

Telstra managing director for marketing, commercial and consumer, Amanda Lacaze commented on the ACA investigation: "Telstra welcomes the ACA enquiry . . . as it will provide an opportunity for a broader discussion on the most appropriate measures of customer service and satisfaction."

"What the ACA measures is not a complete picture of how Telstra delivers customer service."

Lacaze said that the service provision in areas without adequate infrastructure represented less than 0.4 per cent of Telstra's overall service and maintenance provision.

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