Minister says 111 calls must get through

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Minister for Communications and Information Technology, Steven Joyce, says ensuring 111 calls made from mobile telephone networks get through is vital.

"The recent spate of outages on the XT network has exposed some shortcomings in this area and officials have been working urgently with Telecom since last evening to address these issues."

Currently, Telecom is obliged under the Telecommunications Services Obligation (TSO) to provide emergency calling on its fixed network. However, mobile phones are not covered by the TSO.

Mr Joyce says that the government may need to regulate to ensure that operators prioritise 111 calls in situations where networks become unstable.

When networks are completely down handsets are programmed to roam on other available networks to make emergency calls. This is known as SOS mode. When networks are intermittently down, or where voice services are down but data and text remain, this may not happen. This was the case in some areas last night.

"I've asked officials to look into this issue and I expect them to come back to me with a list of options in a short timeframe."

Mr Joyce has welcomed Telecom's plans to compensate customers.

"The reality though is that the thing their customers will most want is a stable network that they can rely on. I reiterate the government's concern over this ongoing issue.

"The simple reality is that Telecom needs to solve this issue and solve it quickly," says Mr Joyce.
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