No to free emergency alerts: Communications Alliance

Thursday, 13 December, 2018

No to free emergency alerts: Communications Alliance

Communications Alliance has rejected calls to provide the Queensland Government with free emergency alerts.

It welcomed a discussion about the respective roles and responsibilities in relation to emergency services but objected to calls from the government for mobile carriers to provide emergency alerts without compensation.

“Mobile carriers are very conscious about their responsibilities during an emergency and they spend a lot of resources to provide government and the community with a range of vital and complex technologies that facilitate various emergency-related features, including emergency alerts,” said Communications Alliance CEO John Stanton.

“These technologies are far from simple and are subject to commercial arrangements between government and the mobile carriers. Upon government’s request, mobile carriers have put in place the sophisticated technology to be able to prioritise and deliver alerts across mobile and fixed networks with millions of messages sent across Australia each year. At its inception in 2009, Commonwealth, state and territory governments decided that those services would be provided on a national basis with fees charged to government but no direct fees payable by the recipients of emergency alerts. In line with those agreements, mobile operators ought to be compensated for the services they provide.

“Mobile operators have a strong track record of assisting the victims of natural disasters in a number of ways, including through giving free handsets to those whose devices have been destroyed and providing assistance with the costs of staying connected. Mobile operators are also using special ‘cells on wheels’ in areas where mobile infrastructure has been destroyed to boost connectivity during such critical times.

“Our industry will continue to ensure that Australians benefit from state-of-the-art emergency systems. For example, work is underway to further improve location accuracy for emergency calls to allow emergency crews to have access to more detailed information about where a person in need may be located. And, of course, mobile carriers continue to provide emergency calls without compensation and free of charge to the caller.”

Image credit: ©igor/Dollar Photo Club

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