The Network Reliability Framework (NRF) is a safeguard for Telstra's 6.03 million residential and small business customers who have five lines or less. The framework complements the Customer Service Guarantee which ensures that faults are repaired within reasonable timeframes. The purpose of the NRF is to:
- improve consumer awareness of overall service reliability, nationally and regionally;
- improve the operation of poorly performing parts of, and services in, the Telstra telephone network, particularly in regional and rural Australia;
- improve community confidence in reliability of the customer access network; and
- empower the ACMA to enforce reliability and remediation requirements where warranted.
The government introduced the NRF in response to the findings of the Telecommunications Service Inquiry in 2000. It was brought into effect on 1 January 2003 by licence conditions placed upon Telstra by the Carrier Licence Conditions (Telstra Corporation Limited) Declaration 1997 (Amendment No. 4 of 2002). In 2004-05 the former ACA reviewed the operation of the NRF and reported to the Minister in June 2005 on its findings. In September 2005 the government accepted the NRF review recommendations, the majority of which related to Level 2. The new NRF licence conditions were announced by the Minister on 13 September 2006, and commenced on 1 October 2006.
The NRF has three levels of operation. The first level is designed to inform the public about the general reliability of fixed telephone services in different regions of Australia, while the other two levels are concerned with identifying localised areas and individual services that do not meet minimum levels of reliability and require attention.
Level 1 of the NRF requires Telstra to publish monthly data showing the reliability of services on a national basis and in 44 different regions (known as field service areas) across Australia. The two measures of reliability are:
- the percentage of services that do not experience a fault; and
- the percentage of time that services on average were available (that is, not waiting for repair).
Level 2 of the NRF looks at the performance, throughout Australia, of disaggregated parts of the network known as cable runs. Under the new Level 2 arrangements, which commenced in October 2006, Telstra is required to identify the 40 lowest performing cable runs (a set of 10 or 100 copper wire pairs within a physical cable sheath) each month. Following remediation, these cable runs are assessed over a 6 month period against a criterion of a 90 per cent decrease in the volume of network events. Failure to achieve a 90 per cent reduction results in closer scrutiny by the ACMA, as well as further remediation and assessment.
Level 3 of the NRF looks at the performance of individual services. Telstra is required to take action to prevent any service from experiencing more than three faults in any rolling 60-day period or more than four faults in any rolling 365-day period. Telstra is required to report to the ACMA on any services that breach these thresholds, with the the ACMA able to require Telstra to undertake further remediation of the network wherever necessary.
More detailed information on each of the levels is available by clicking on the relevant heading.
NRF performance data
Telstra's performance against the NRF is available from a number of sources. Detailed analysis of Telstra's performance can be found in the ACMA's quarterly Telecommunications Performance Monitoring Bulletin and annual Telecommunications Performance Report. Telstra makes its Level 1 performance and some relevant maps available on its website.
The ACMA completed its review of the NRF and provided its report to the Minister for Communications, Information Technology and the Arts in June 2005. The Minister has released the Report and it can be accessed here - PDF (315 kb) or Word (788 kb).
The discussion paper can be accessed by clicking here.