Worst of the worst



THE Clarence Valley is home to two of the worst telephone exchange areas in Australia, according to information released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

In the ACMA's Telecommunications Monitoring Performance Bulletin 32, both the Tucabia and Jackadgery areas were found to be among the worst 97 in Australia because of poor performance and continued faults. The report showed the exchange areas were plagued by a high percentage of faults over consecutive months, and they continually failed the performance test laid down under the Government's 'network reliability framework'.

Opposition spokesman for regional development Simon Crean announced the findings in Parliament on Tuesday night and said the report's findings belied the Government's claim of improving services.

"The 'worst of the worst' list cuts a lie to the Howard Government's claim that it is serious about delivering improved telecommunications services to rural and regional Australians," he said.

Mr Crean said most of the faulty exchanges were in regional areas and 68 of the total were in NSW.

However, Telstra Country Wide corporate affairs spokesman Alix Varley said the figures were misleading.

"It's not a very good indication of fault levels out there ? if anything it's probably slightly mischievous to suggest that it is," she said.

Ms Varley said there were three tiers of fault recording information provided to ACMA from which their reports were derived, and Mr Crean had focused on a small percentage.

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