Telstra has pledged to act faster to fix landline outages in regional Australia after being criticised in a report last December.
Telstra CEO Andy Penn said the telco will take “proactive” measures to prevent landline faults three months after the Regional Telecommunications Review found some rural Australians were being left up to weeks without phone services.
Writing in a blog on Telstra’s Exchange site, Penn said that the telco was meeting the standards required under universal service obligation (USO) agreement, which sees the Federal Government pay the company $230 million to provide fixed telephone services.
However, he admitted that a number customers “still have to wait longer than they should” for their phone services to be fixed.
“I understand the frustration this can cause, particularly where there are no other options,” he wrote. “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.”
Penn also acknowledged that regional cabling was sometimes older and more susceptible to damage and faults.
As part of a new program, jointly announced by minister for regional services Bridget McKenzie Telstra will repair and replace 1,000 cable joints and the cabling itself when necessary.
It also will repair and replace around and migrate 350 customers off the old high capacity radio concentrator (HCRC) network onto NextG Wireless Local Loop (NGWL) telephone services.
The telco will leave 200 battery replacements in exchange and roadside cabinets where mains power failures are more frequent.
To speed up repairs, Telstra will increase stocks of pair gain units – approximately 800 – to reduce repair time delays caused by having to wait for parts.
“Landlines are a lifeline for many regional Australians and repeat faults and long repair time frames are just not good enough and are significant pain points for those living in regional, rural and remote areas,” minister McKenzie said.
“For some, a landline service is their only connection to the outside world and can literally mean the difference between life and death. It is essential these services are reliable, and that any issues are fixed quickly.”