Telstra pledges to improve network redundancy following issues connecting Triple Zero calls

ACMA launched investigation in May after 1,433 calls were not carried to the operator

Credit: Dreamstime

Telstra has committed to improving the redundancy and diversity of its network, developing new communication protocols to strengthen the emergency call service.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) launched an investigation in May over service disruption to Telstra's public switched telephone Network (PSTN) and core IP network that took place on 4 May 2018.

Telstra's fixed line and mobile callers in all States and Territories and also customers of other carriage service providers (CSPs), which use the Telstra network to carry calls, experienced intermittent difficulties making contact with the emergency call service using the emergency service numbers 000 and 112.

ACMA found that Telstra contravened a rule that requires telecommunications providers to ensure that calls made to Triple Zero using their networks are carried to the operator of the emergency call service.

"Telstra failed to ensure that some 1,433 calls were carried to the operator as a result of problems triggered by a fire in an inter-state cable pit, which were compounded by network software failures," said Nerida O’Loughlin, chair of ACMA.

"Triple Zero is the lifeline for Australians in life-threatening or emergency situations. Community confidence in the emergency call service must be maintained."

ACMA accepted a court enforceable undertaking by Telstra in which the telco committed to improve the services.

"Following the Triple Zero (000) disruption, we conducted our own extensive investigation into what occurred to identify further improvements to our network, processes and systems," a Telstra spokesperson said.

"We have worked cooperatively with the ACMA and the Federal Government on their own investigations. We take our responsibilities as the service provider for 000 extremely seriously. One failed call to Triple Zero is one too many and we apologise again for what occurred."

Telstra also promised to develop new communication protocols to be used in the event of another disruption and benchmarking its systems against international best practice.

"The actions Telstra has already taken, and is undertaking, will help strengthen the emergency call service and minimise the risk of another disruption to this critical service," O’Loughlin said.

ACMA is also reviewing the rules governing the emergency call service to make sure that they are as robust as possible in the context of today’s technologies, and that they impose clear, consistent and appropriate obligations.

"Given the critical nature of the Triple Zero service, the ACMA takes matters about access to the service very seriously," O’Loughlin added. "The review will help ensure that the rules for the emergency call service remain current and effective."

As previously reported, emergency Triple Zero call services and mobile Telstra services were hit by intermittent “interruptions” early on 4 May after a cable was damaged by fire – likely caused by a lightning strike – in regional NSW.

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