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Telstra service faults increasing: ACMA

Individual Telstra service faults numbering five or more over a 365-day period have increased by 100 percent, while its response time has leapt by almost 70 percent.
Written by Corinne Reichert, Contributor

Telstra's service faults are increasing as its response time decreases, a report from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has revealed.

The ACMA Communications Report 2014-15 [PDF], tabled in Parliament on Wednesday, exposed that four or more faults experienced on an individual service over a 60-day period numbered 219 for the year to June 30, 2015, the highest in five years and an increase of 42.21 percent from last year's 154, while five or more faults over a 365-day period reached 36, an increase of 100 percent over last year's 18.

The average length of time for Telstra to restore fault-affected services also increased by 69.8 percent, from 65.07 hours in June 2014 up to 110.52 hours in June 2015.

Telstra's overall availability remained high, however, with 99.73 percent of services not experiencing a fault each month for the year, and its Customer Service Guarantee (CSG) Standard services available for 98.18 percent of the time. Both of those fell marginally from 2014, though -- down from 99.87 percent and 98.49 percent, respectively.

Failing to meet the CSG minimum service standards for carriers in installing, repairing, and meeting appointments for phone services cost Telstra AU$2.81 million in compensation payments to customers during 2014-15, and cost Optus AU$1.36 million; iiNet AU$1.33 million; Dodo AU$0.31 million; and Primus AU$0.05 million.

According to the ACMA report, Telstra grew its total fixed internet subscriber base by 3.1 percent over the year, from 4.97 million to 5.12 million; Optus grew by 3.5 percent, from 1.01 million to 1.05 million; iiNet increased its customer base by 4.1 percent, from 950,000 to 989,000; TPG upped its customers by 9.8 percent, from 748,000 to 821,000; and M2 Group grew its fixed internet subscribers by 10 percent, from 482,000 to 530,000.

The report also revealed that Telstra, which is required by the network reliability framework (NRF) to remediate at least 40 of its lowest-quality cable runs -- a set of 10 or 100 copper wire pairs within a cable sheath -- each month, repaired and reported on more than 500 cable runs during the year.

"During 2014-15, Telstra completed remediation and monitoring of 558 cable runs, some of which were identified for remediation in previous reporting periods. For the year, Telstra identified the required 480 cable runs to be remediated. Telstra also remediated an additional 417 cable runs associated with the reported cable runs," the report says.

"Telstra estimated that remediation work undertaken as part of Level 2 of the NRF in 2014-15 improved the reliability of 26,607 services compared to the 32,238 services that benefited from remediation under Level 2 of the NRF in 2013-14."

The state of Telstra's copper network has come under fire of late, with a leaked document from the company rolling out Australia's National Broadband Network (NBN) revealing earlier on Thursday that the cost to replace or repair the legacy copper network will amount to AU$641 million.

The wide-scale rollout of fibre to the node (FttN), which makes use of the copper network, was approved by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) in June, with a revised AU$11 billion deal allowing NBN to take ownership of Telstra's HFC and copper assets.

NBN had recently also revealed that while copper lines between the node and the home will not need to be replaced, the company will need to add or replace copper between the node and the pillar where necessary in rolling out its FttN network.

The ACMA also reported that in regards to cybersecurity, the Australian Internet Security Initiative (AISI), an ACMA-operated voluntary program covering more than 95 percent of Australian IP addresses, recorded around 9.73 million infections during 2014-15, averaging 26,645 per day. This signalled an increase of 3.1 percent over 2014's 25,839.

Online content complaints, meanwhile, grew by 18 percent, from 4,051 in 2013-14 to 4,801 in 2014-15. The number of complaints investigated by the ACMA fell by 21 percent, however, from 11,164 last year to 8,728 this year.

The report also noted a national and global "rising interest" in the machine-to-machine (M2M) connections and the Internet of Things.

"Telstra, Optus, and Vodafone all reported increased activity in M2M services, with Telstra reporting M2M-related revenue growing by 11.9 per cent to AU$113 million," the report points out.

The ACMA Annual Report 2014-15 [PDF] in October revealed that 824,841 customers had their details revealed by carriers and carriage service providers (CSPs) during the year under Part 13 of the Telecommunications Act 1997, with the majority of these for enforcing criminal law: 584,029 customer records were handed over for this purpose during 2014-15.

Customer information provided with the person's knowledge or consent numbered 171,926, while 14,500 were to avert a threat to a person's life or health; 13,106 were authorised or made under law; 10,073 were due to emergency services calls; 8,749 were to assist the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO); 7,206 were for enforcement of a law imposing a pecuniary penalty or protection of public revenue; 4,195 were for locating missing persons; 1,268 were to assist the ACMA; 484 were for those as witnesses under summons; 437 were voluntarily disclosed; 67 were for enforcing a foreign country's criminal law; 11 were to assist the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC); and six were connected with an exempt disclosure.

By comparison, the 2012-13 financial year saw government requests to all telecommunications companies total 319,874.

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