Minister for Regional Services and Deputy Leader of The Nationals Bridget McKenzie has welcomed Telstra's new communications investments, which will make landlines more reliable across regional and rural Australia.
Telstra has today committed to undertake a dedicated program of work to improve the reliability of regional and remote landlines.
The announcement comes after the release of an independent review of regional telecommunications, which reinforced the importance of fixed line phone services for people living outside the cities.
“Landlines are a lifeline for many regional Australians and repeat faults and long repair timeframes 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.”
Minister McKenzie said she was pleased to see Telstra investing in practical and proactive solutions to an issue that has long been a frustration for many Australians.
“This is a welcome first step in addressing regional connectivity challenges. I understand firsthand just how important a reliable landline is, particularly in areas with limited mobile coverage,” Minister McKenzie said.
“The Liberal and Nationals Government have an unprecedented track record of delivering better telecommunications for those who live, work and invest in rural and regional Australia.”
Telstra's program of work will specifically include:
- Repairing and replacement of around 1,000 cable joints (and where necessary the cable itself) on the worst performing cables.
- Migration of around 350 customers off the ageing HCRC network onto NextG Wireless Local Loop (NGWL) telephone services.
- Around 200 battery replacements in exchange and roadside cabinets where mains power failures are more frequent.
- Increase stocks of pair gain units (approximately 800) – to reduce repair time delays caused by having to wait for parts.
Telstra have already started work on its expanded plan and will keep the Government updated on progress. At completion of the expanded plan, Telstra will regularly monitor regional customer fault times on aged lines.
The initiative follows the release of the Regional Telecommunications Review, which sets out a clear action plan and timeline to improve communications for regional and remote Australians.
The Universal Service Obligation (USO) is a long-standing consumer protection that ensures everyone has access to landline telephones and payphones regardless of where they live or work.
Telstra is responsible for delivering the USO, and must provide standard telephone services (STS) on request to every premise in Australia within reasonable timeframes. This is both a legislative and contractual obligation.
The Liberal and Nationals Government is carefully considering the recommendations from the review and will be responding before 30 March 2019.
Jonathan Hawkes: 0434 660 801