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Telecommunications performance report

The Australian Communications Authority (ACA) today released its Telecommunications Performance Monitoring Bulletin for the March 1999 quarter. The bulletin reports on carrier performance in the fixed and mobile phone networks, and continues the ACA's reporting on the Year 2000 (Y2K) readiness of the industry. A special interest report explains the transition from network standards to industry codes.

Performance by carriers against the timeframes in the Customer Service Guarantee standard are reported on under fixed networks. The CSG Standard allows for self-determined exemptions where non-compliance is the result of circumstances beyond the control of the carrier, including such things as extreme weather conditions causing mass outages.

For the first time this Bulletin includes performance data for Telstra that takes account of the exemptions it claimed in Mass Service Disruption Notices for specified areas. The ACA has also published unadjusted data for the March quarter which makes comparisons with previous quarters possible.

Performance figures against the provision of new services for urban, rural (minor and major) and remote areas that are readily accessible to infrastructure show that Telstra met or improved on its performance figures for the same period last year. National unadjusted figures for the remote areas showed the greatest improvement (five per cent) over March 1998 figures. A slight decline in performance or the same performance levels were achieved in these areas in comparison with the December 1998 quarter.

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For urban, rural and remote areas not readily accessible to infrastructure Telstra's performance in providing new services is mixed. For unadjusted data there was an improvement for remote areas of four percentage points to 96 per cent, and minor rural areas remained the same at 97 per cent. Performance declined for urban areas by three percentage points to 72 per cent, and for major rural areas by one percentage point to 61 per cent. Comparison with the December quarter result shows a decline or improvement of one or two percentage points, except for urban areas, which was unchanged.

Fault repair times compared to the March 1998 quarter show an improvement, but a decline compared with December 1998 figures. The ACA acknowledges that seasonal factors do have an effect on performance.

Telstra's performance in provision of payphone services has deteriorated. Payphone serviceability declined six percentage points to 85 per cent when compared with the same quarter last year, with Victoria recording the largest decline of 18 percentage points to 74 percent. The results for hours to clear a payphone fault are volatile: the average this quarter was 36 hours, seven hours longer than for the December quarter, but six hours less than for the March quarter last year. Western Australia's figures are particularly volatile, improving by 32 hours last quarter, but 14 hours longer this quarter, averaging 57 hours to repair a payphone fault, the highest figure for the quarter.

This is the second report by the ACA on the Y2K readiness of the telecommunications industry. Critical reporting areas are: network integrity, customer equipment and emergency services. This report covers the largest telecommunications carriers and carriage service providers (CSPs), and some of the largest manufacturers of telecommunications customer equipment.

All respondents anticipate that functionality of networks will be Y2K compliant by the end of the year. The ACA is nevertheless concerned that reliance is being placed on significant amounts of work being completed in the second half of 1999 and hopes to see improvement in this prediction in next quarter's reporting.

Current reporting of Y2K readiness for calls to emergency service numbers 000 or 112 show that carriers and CSPs place a high importance on this issue. The ACA will require an increase in the level of detail in future reporting, in order to provide public assurance about emergency service calls.

Responses from manufacturers who were contacted indicate the existence of Y2K programs within companies, but specific detail was often lacking. These issues will be further addressed in the next Bulletin.

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