The federal government has sought to claim credit for a rise in telecommunications performance during the December 2003 quarter, claiming the performance shows its industry measures "are working effectively".
The Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, Daryl Williams, said in a statement issued today the improved performance demonstrated the "industry's commitment to meeting the service targets set by government".
The service standards of telecommunications companies, particularly in rural and regional Australia, have been a hot-button issue for the government and have had a strong bearing on its moves to sell the remainder of dominant carrier Telstra.
A performance monitoring bulletin released by the Australian Communications Authority shows an improvement in the performance of Telstra, Optus, and Primus in complying with regulations covering fixed phone services, particularly for fault repair and service connection.
The Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) requires all telephone companies to meet fixed timeframes for the connection of services, the repair of faults and meeting appointments for residential and small business customers with up to five lines.
Where telecommunications companies fail to meet these timeframes, unless an exemption applies, they are required to make automatic compensation payments to customers.
According to the report, overall industry CSG connection and fault rectification performance at a national level both remained above 90 percent.
Where timeframes were not met in the quarter and no exemption applied, Telstra and Optus reported a 100 percent compliance with the automated payment requirements. While not achieving 100 percent against all measurements, the report showed Primus and AAPT improve their performance.
The reliability of Telstra's fixed phone network is closely monitored by the ACA under the government's Network Reliability Framework (NRF). In 2003, CSG services monitored by the NRF were available on average 99.94 percent of the time. On average, 99.10 percent of CSG services per month did not experience a fault.
Of approximately 7.2 million services in operation in 2003, only 639 individual CSG services experienced multiple fault levels and required remediation.
An audit conducted for the ACA into the use of exemption notices under the CSG for mass service disruptions found both Telstra and Optus have appropriate systems and processes in place to meet their CSG obligations.