Legislation enacted to protect triple zero calls via VoIP

Emergency calls will continue to be free of charge

Emergency triple zero calls from Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are covered under legislation that formally came into effect today.

Amendments to the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2002 Act confirm the obligation to provide free-of-charge access calls to Triple Zero from VoIP services with both dial-in and dial-out functionality.

ACMA chairman, Chris Chapman, said these amendments provide greater certainty for consumers about access to police, fire and ambulance assistance, as new and innovative services are introduced.

'Many VoIP providers already provide free-of-charge access for emergency calls, and the amended Determination makes it very clear that from today all VoIP providers of two-way services are obligated to provide access to Triple Zero and the special emergency number (106) for the Deaf and hearing impaired community," Chapman said.

Those VoIP services must also be flagged in the Integrated Public Number Database so the emergency call service operator will be alerted to ask the caller for location information.

The IPND is a national database of all listed and unlisted public telephone numbers and relevant customer details.

The amendments follow on from an extensive consultation process with carriers, VoIP providers, emergency service organisations and consumer groups.

As a complementary initiative, ACMA and the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts recently wrote to more than 40 Australian providers of VoIP services urging them to find technical solutions so that all users of VoIP services can have access to the emergency call numbers.

ACMA and DCITA sought firm indications of what solutions are currently available and when other solutions will be implemented.

While technical solutions are being developed, it is expected there will be a commitment from providers to undertake a range of proposed consumer awareness raising measures. Details appear on the ACMA Web site.

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