RURAL advocacy groups have welcomed news that Telstra has committed to landline improvements as required under the Universal Service Obligation (USO) and to achieve its Customer Service Guarantee timeframe.
In a press release, the Regional, Rural and Remote Communications Coalition (RRRCC) said it welcomed the announcement that Telstra would address issues regarding the reliability of landline services identified in the 2018 Regional Telecommunications Review.
The review raised issues surrounding extended fault and repair times experienced by some customers in regional, rural and remote Australia.
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National Farmers’ Federation, CEO, Tony Mahar said as a member of the RRRCC, the Federation had consistently advocated for access to reliable voice services.
"For many of these people Telstra’s fixed voice service is the only connection to the outside world if their internet service is not working," he said.
"Voice services are literally a lifeline for many people , this lifeline must be maintained."
"For this reason we welcome Telstra’s commitment today to make much needed repairs and upgrades to some of its landline infrastructure, and to a regular review of aged landline repairs."
Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, Teresa Corbin said the RRRCC strongly supported measures to deliver improved service repair times for regional, rural and remote customers.
"Many of our members have been adversely impacted by a deteriorating landline service that is often not fixed within the specified Customer Service Guarantee timeframe.
"This was recognised by the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee, who said in their final report that they were ‘appalled’ at some of the excessive repair times reported for landline services, which extended through weeks and even months in some cases."
Better Internet for Rural, Regional and Remote Australia, co-founder, Kristy Sparrow said the RRRCC was pleased to see Telstra’s commitment to migrate 350 customers off the ageing High Capacity Radio Concentrator (HCRC) network, which currently provides 14,000 individual voice services to remote areas.
"The HCRC system’s extended outages and lack of availability of parts is an ongoing issue for remote families with no access to mobile phone coverage."
"Telstra’s commitment to migrate 350 HCRC customers to a NextG Wireless Local Loop service is very much welcomed. There is also an ongoing need for a strategy to deliver alternative voice technologies for the remainder of those customers serviced by the HCRC network, as identified by the Regional Telecommunications Independent Review Committee."
In the release, the RRRCC said it called for the Government to support and implement all 10 recommendations of the Regional Telecommunications Review.