Triple Zero investigation reports released

Additional measures will be implemented to further strengthen the Triple Zero service, following two investigations into disruptions which occurred in May this year.

The Department of Communications and the Arts and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) conducted two separate investigations on the following events:

  • 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 inter state 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 commenced in 1961.

The Minister for Communications and the Arts, Senator Mitch Fifield asked the Department to investigate what redundancy and mitigation arrangements were in place under the Triple Zero contract with Telstra, and whether these arrangements were sufficient.

Released today, the Department’s report makes 11 recommendations, seven of which apply 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. 

Separately, the ACMA investigated Telstra’s compliance with Telecommunications Emergency Call Service Determination 2009 (the Determination). The ACMA’s report released today, 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 ACMA has also released an issues paper inviting stakeholder feedback on a review of the Determination, as recommended in the Department’s investigation report. 

Minister Fifield welcomed the findings of the two investigations and said the Department will continue to work with Telstra, the ACMA and emergency service organisations to strengthen the Triple Zero service.

“The Government takes the safety of Australians seriously and the Triple Zero service is vital in keeping our community safe,” he said. 

“This was the first serious disruption to the Triple Zero service in more than 50 years. With the measures the Government putting in place, Australians can feel confident the service will have greater safeguards in times of need.”  

The Department is also in discussion with Telstra to implement a new Internet-Protocol (IP) platform to facilitate next generation Triple Zero capabilities, as well as Advanced Mobile Location (AML) to provide more accurate location information by automatically sending coordinates to Triple Zero. 

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