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Telstra kicks off regional upgrade

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(Image: Telstra)

Telstra has announced a program of work to upgrade and maintain its services in regional Australia.

In a blog post, Telstra CEO Andy Penn said that while Telstra meets its Universal Services Obligation (USO) standards, some customers do have to “wait longer than they should” for services to be restored.

“I understand the frustration this can cause, particularly where there are no other options. We are therefore expanding our regional maintenance plan further to address the primary sources of regional faults so we can provide a better, more reliable service for our customers,” Penn said.

“This includes the proactive repair of cable joints, which can be a common cause of faults in the regional network, migrating customers from less reliable networks using outdated technology to more reliable networks, and the pro-active replacement of batteries in exchanges.”

Specifically, Telstra will be repairing or replacing 1,000 cable joints and some cabling on the worst-performing cables; migrating 350 customers off its old high-capacity radio concentrator (HCRC) network onto NextG Wireless Local Loop (NGWL) telephone services; and replacing around 200 batteries in exchanges and roadside cabinets where mains power failures occur frequently.

“We are also improving stock levels of equipment so our field teams can respond faster when something goes wrong,” Penn added.

Minister for Regional Services Bridget McKenzie welcomed the announcement, saying landlines will be made more reliable in regional and rural areas.

“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,” 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.”

Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) CEO Teresa Corbin said “some of the issues” outlined in the Regional Telecommunications Review will be addressed by the program, including extended faults and repair time frames.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

ACMA scam project terms set

The Australian government has also released the terms of reference for the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) program working to reduce scam activity on telco networks.

Under the terms of reference [PDF], published on Wednesday, the ACMA will consider existing and emerging technologies that enable scams; existing, new, and emerging technology that could reduce scams; costs and benefits of potential solutions; implementation issues; timing; and international approaches.

The ACMA is also set to have regard to “the importance of communications networks for the economic and social development of all Australians”; current scam policy and regulation; international programs that are supported by governments, industry, and consumers; research on consumer concerns about scams being perpetrated over telco networks; stakeholder opinions; and the costs to consumers and industry of any solutions.

Scams being delivered over the internet, such as online dating or online shopping scams, are not within the scope of the project.

The ACMA, which is also working with the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) and the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on the project, is set to release a discussion paper in the next few weeks. A final report is due in December.

“Scam calls are more than a nuisance. They pose a real threat, particularly to those in vulnerable circumstances such as older people,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said in December, with the ACMA saying recent research found that 50 percent of adults in Australia received scam calls weekly or even daily.

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2022 BMW M8 Competition range revealed with bigger screens and better lights

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German automaker BMW has updated its 2022 M8 Competition sport-luxury car. You can still get an M8 Competition in three body styles (2-door Coupe, 2-door Cabriolet, and 4-door Gran Coupe), sharing the same 4.4-liter twin-turbocharged V8 engine with 617 horsepower and 553 pound-feet of torque.

Images: BMW AG
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Tesla Cybertruck delayed again plus Elon Musk squashes $25k EV rumors

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Tesla closed out 2021 with a bumper year, besting Q4 estimates and pushing EV deliveries past 300,000, though Elon Musk tempered hopes for the arrival of the Cybertruck and more affordable models. Revenue in the year as a whole grew 71%, Tesla announced, describing 2021 as “a breakthrough year” for the automaker, but some of the most anticipated electric vehicles are still some way out.

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No Tesla Cybertruck until 2023

The most conspicuous project that Tesla has underway is undoubtedly the Cybertruck. The oddly-shaped all-electric pickup proved controversial when Elon Musk first revealed it, and glimpses of development prototypes in the intervening years haven’t dimmed its ability to polarize opinion. Undoubtedly the most frequently-asked question, however, is when Tesla actually might put the Cybertruck into production.

Tesla

Tesla’s investor deck continues with the same, vague timeline as has been stated in previous releases. “We are making progress on the industrialization of Cybertruck, which is currently planned for Austin production subsequent to Model Y,” the automaker says.

Speaking on the investor call, however, Musk confirmed that the Cybertruck wouldn’t go into production this year. The primary focus for Tesla, the CEO explained, would be ramping production of its existing models, like the popular Model 3 and Model Y. They’re still in strong demand, with orders for some configurations of Model Y not expected to be delivered until August 2022.

Tesla Cybertruck pricing

Tesla screenshot by SlashGear

For the Cybertruck, there are still technological hurdles to be worked through, Musk admitted. The automaker is also still trying to figure out how to make it affordable: there was widespread surprise when Tesla announced the full-size electric pickup would have a starting price of around $40,000 when it began taking reservations in late 2019. For the moment, Musk said, the hope is that production can begin sometime in 2023.

Don’t expect the Tesla Roadster any time soon, either

What goes for the Cybertruck, also goes for Tesla’s rebooted Roadster. Also the spur of no shortage of reservation deposits – or the full $250,000 apiece in advance for those wanting one of the first 1,000 “Founder’s Series” cars – the Roadster was originally intended to go into production in mid to late 2021. That was delayed to 2022, and then to 2023.

Tesla Roadster

Tesla

The good news is that it’s still, apparently, on track for that timescale, though as Tesla feels the impact of the supply chain issues affecting the whole auto industry that could still change in the meantime. Chip constraints were name-checked by Musk as being a primary bottleneck for 2021 production of its cars, arguing that if Tesla tried to introduce new models in 2022 it would only have the overall impact of cutting total production output. The need to assign resources to new models would take away from the ability to build cars like the Model 3 and Model Y, he pointed out.

Engineering and tooling-up for the upcoming Tesla models may still begin in 2022. However they won’t go into production until 2023 at the earliest.

The $25,000 Tesla isn’t happening

Tesla line-up

Tesla

Though Tesla hasn’t been affected by the “market adjustments” that have seen dealers of other brands add thousands or even tens of thousands to the sticker price of a new car, it’s clear that the EV-maker is still focused on the trims with the biggest profit margins. Despite previous chatter of a $25,000 Tesla that could undercut even the most affordable Model 3, Musk says that’s simply not on the cards.

“We have too much on our plate,” the CEO said during the investor call.

The reality is, while Tesla has been surprisingly well placed for dealing with the supply chain crunch – including making admirable use of existing chip supplies by reprogramming its software to suit – like most car companies it can’t build as many as it would like to. Focusing on maximizing the return on each vehicle is the inevitable result, not only by prioritizing the more expensive configurations, but on post-sale software enhancements too. Indeed, “over time, we expect our hardware-related profits to be accompanied with an acceleration of software-related profits,” the investor deck points out.

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This carbon 3D-printed Rolls-Royce Cullinan is a $500,000 upgrade

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The Cullinan is the Rolls-Royce of SUVs, so what does this make 1016 Industries’ carbon-fiber, 3D-printed Cullinan? You can call it anything you like, but it is indeed a dignified way to go sporty. We highly prefer it over the quirky Mansory Rolls-Royce Cullinan unveiled last year for the 50th founding anniversary of the United Arab Emirates, and it’s all thanks to the crafty use of 3D printing for the details.

Images: 1016 Industries
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