Telstra performance under renewed scrutiny

Less than a week after leaked documents revealed Telstra is struggling to keep its CDMA mobile network up to government mandated standards, the Australian Communications Authority (ACA) has announced it will review the telco's performance of priority phone fixes for customers with life-threatening medical conditions.

Telstra has been required to provide service-level guarantees to at-risk customers since May 2002 after then Communications Minister Richard Alston made the Priority Assistance service conditional to the Telstra's carrier licence following complaints the sick and elderly were being left for unacceptable periods with no means of calling for emergency services.

Priority Assistance provides at-risk customers a guarantee of connection or fault repair for Telstra's fixed line services within 24 hours in metropolitan areas and 48 hours in remote areas.

According to a statement released by acting ACA chairman, Dr Bob Horton, the ACA will report on "whether Telstra’s current arrangements for priority customers [are] in line with government’s priority assistance objectives, and whether the service [is] being delivered efficiently".

Horton said the current review was requested by previous Minister for Communications Daryl Williams in line with his request to regularly check Telstra's performance.

“Priority Assistance must deliver the highest practicable level of service to eligible customers,” Horton said. “TheACA will be assessing whether the existing administrative and operational arrangements are achieving this objective.”

Submissions and comments on Telstra's Priority Assistance service close on September 16 2004 and can be made by e-mailing priorityassistance@aca.gov.au or by calling (03) 9963 6954.

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