Australians To Call On Emergency Mobile Network In Time Of Need

As the nation braces for a long fire season, a nationwide emergency mobile network is being touted to keep Australians connected.

Date: 22-10-2023 11:00

Australians To Call On Emergency Mobile Network In Time Of Need

As the nation braces for a long and dangerous fire season, a nationwide emergency mobile network is being touted to keep Australians caught up in natural disasters connected, regardless of their carrier.

The federal government will bring the telecommunications industry together to create a universal emergency roaming system after the competition regulator found it was technically feasible but more co-ordination among providers was needed.

A report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission report released on Sunday said better collaboration would also help mitigate risks such as network congestion.

Network providers can improve coverage by building new mobile towers or co-locating onto an existing tower, but both options come with significant costs.

Infrastructure sharing would reduce costs of deploying new mobile sites, the report found, and the public benefits from these grant programs would outweigh possible competition concerns.

It recommended streamlining legislation to make the process for building new towers faster and cheaper.

Additionally, removing obstacles surrounding access to existing towers would make it cheaper and easier for operators to boost their network.

The report also recommended developing protocols to govern when temporary mobile roaming would be initiated and deactivated.

“While no network can ever be 100 per cent resilient, an effective emergency roaming could play a vital role in keeping Australians informed during a disaster,” Communications Minister Michelle Rowlands said.

The return of extreme fire danger this summer after years of cooler and wetter weather makes the need for an emergency communications system ever more pressing.

Emergency Management Minister Murray Watt says the emergency roaming capability has the potential to save many lives during bushfires, floods and severe weather.

“Disasters can occur and change quickly, making connectivity vital for all Australians,” he said.

The government launched a taskforce in September to help complete a dedicated mobile broadband service for emergency services, which has been stuck in development for years.

A royal commission examining responses to the 2019-20 bushfires recommended governments expedite the delivery of a public safety mobile broadband capability after it found multiple extended delays in implementing the system.

-AAP




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