Telstra has blamed the introduction of a new technology regime for a drop in its fault repair performance in the March quarter.
Telstra's performance in repairing faults within the Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) timeframes fell to 85 per cent from 91 per cent with the Telco blaming a combination of seasonal factors including bushfires and storms as well as the pilot of a new work management system.
According to Michael Rocca, Telstra's infrastructure services group managing director, the telco has been piloting a system, dubbed FuturEdge, in Queensland, rural Victoria and Tasmania which "experienced implementation problems" that affected performance.
"IT-related teething problems experienced by FuturEdge led to inaccurate service work despatches to field staff in locations where it was piloted. These have has since been rectified and will continue to be closely monitored by Telstra as the system is progressively rolled out nationally," Rocca said, adding that it is one of the biggest IT implementation deployments currently being undertaken in Australia.
When it is rolled out, Rocca said it will introduce new efficiencies and long-term improvements to customer service levels.
The pilot aims to identify problems before the system is deployed nationally and is being rolled out in stages to maintain stability.
Telstra was unable to provide details of the new system, cost and completion dates for the rollout, claiming the project director was on annual leave, but the spokesman said FuturEdge is replacing a legacy system and the new technology was adopted to provide faster and more accurate data.
IT Minister Senator Richard Alston sought an immediate explanation from Telstra as to the drop in performance with the telco's executive general manager for metropolitan service Alan Olden quick to point out the decline had been addressed and current performance is back at 90 per cent.
Not surprisingly, the performance figures created a political furore at a time when the government introduced laws into Parliament to pave the way for the full privatisation of Telstra.
Introducing the Telstra Bill, Science Minister Brendan Nelson said the government was in no hurry to sell its remaining 50.1 per cent stake of the telco and would only sell when the price was right.
Democrats communications spokesman John Cherry said new information from Telstra to a Senate committee showed complaints about the phone network were increasing and reported faults were up 26 per cent.
"The government should concentrate on getting the service delivery and price regulation of Telstra right before even contemplating a sale; I think the Telstra sale should be put off indefinitely," Senator Cherry said.