TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Telstra Cutting Out Payhones in Australia

Telstra Cutting Out Payhones in Australia

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Sun, 19 Feb 2006 14:37:10 -0600

The Sydney Morning Herald.
Telstra Has Plan to 'Slash Payphones'
February 20, 2006 - 5:49AM

Telstra is said to have approved plans to slash 5,000 of its 32,000
payphones in country towns and capital cities over the next seven months.

The Australian Financial Review reports that while only 15 per cent of
the payphones to be removed are in rural and regional areas, country
towns in at least four states face the loss of half their public
outdoor phones.

To defuse the political fallout from its decision, the majority
government-owned carrier will engage in a secret but deceptive
strategy of marking the phones with a sticker claiming the service is
being relocated, the paper says.

It says it has obtained a Telstra Country Wide briefing note revealing
a strategy to minimise consultation with local governments over the
move, divert complaints and avoid media scrutiny.

A Telstra insider says payphones identified for the removal program
have an average annual usage totalling $1,500 to $4,000.

The removal plan is set to further aggravate relations between the
telco and the government over phone services in rural and regional
areas in the lead-up to the sale of the government's remaining $26
billion stake in the carrier.

The cost-cutting drive forms part of chief executive Sol Trujillo's
plan to freeze $11 billion a year in expenses for the next five years.

During the period, up to 11,000 people face the sack, its IT networks
will be rationalised and $25 billion will be spent on new capital
investment, the paper says.

Copyright 2006 AAP
Copyright 2006 The Sydney Morning Herald.

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