27 September 2023

Triple Zero gets call for upgrade

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The Triple Zero telephone emergency service is to be strengthened following the findings of two investigations into disruptions earlier this year.

The Department of Communications and the Arts and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) conducted the separate investigations.

They found that on 4 May, Telstra experienced network issues resulting in service disruptions, including calls to Triple Zero. The disruptions occurred after a partial failure of a transmission device, a fire that caused the cut of an interstate fibre optic cable and software faults in core network routers.

On 26 May, an unusual volume of calls were unintentionally directed from another carrier’s network to Triple Zero, causing congestion.

These were the first known serious disruptions to Triple Zero since the service began in 1961.

Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield said the report made 11 recommendations, seven of which applied to Telstra.

“As a result, Telstra is taking action to improve network redundancy, upgrade alarm identification and diagnosis of service issues, implement live dashboard reporting, and improve internal practices and external communications,” Senator Fifield said.

“Separately, the ACMA investigated Telstra’s compliance with the Telecommunications Emergency Call Service Determination 2009.”

He said ACMA’s report found that Telstra contravened Section 22 of the Determination, by failing to carry emergency calls to the emergency call service operator on 1,433 occasions during the 4 May disruption.

“In response to the findings, the ACMA has accepted a court enforceable undertaking which commits Telstra to improving the redundancy and diversity of its network; developing new communication protocols to be used in the event of another disruption; and benchmarking its systems against international best practice,” the Minister said.

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