Interruption in Triple Zero Services Puts a Question Mark on the Well-Established Network Provider, Telstra

  • Oct 22, 2018 AEDT
  • Team Kalkine
Interruption in Triple Zero Services Puts a Question Mark on the Well-Established Network Provider, Telstra

Telstra (ASX: TLS), which is contracted to provide multiple connections for all calls faced the investigation for the network outage that occurred on 4th May  by the Department of Communications in assistance with Australian Communications and Media Authority. Nearly all the major telecom companies suffered a major hit by the network outage on 4th may, Friday Morning and the response time taken by Telstra to keep informed about the issue.

Nearly 25000 calls are made to the triple zero line (the lifeline for Australians during emergency and life-threatening conditions) across the country during a day and of which nearly 25% are not emergencies. The first outage which occurred around 2. a.m. on 4th May was the result of a fire at the cable pit near Orange in NSW. The cable which got damaged was cut in the early hours of the morning was one of the networks under three major links nationally. This whole event witnessed intermittent interruptions to triple zero services in regions that included New South Wales, South Australia, Western Australia, Victoria, Queensland, and Tasmania. Majorly all traffic lights in Victoria and telephone services and EFTPOS machines got affected by network disruption issue. 

Telstra claims for having in place built in network redundancy which means alternative rerouting should happen in case of any such failure, and this was put to question after network outage issue in May. Experts raised questions on backup termed as redundancies, and the working thereof. Similar outage which was noticed by Fairfax Media was encountered during May 31 and was the result of offshore hackers swapping the phone line. Formal report by Government officials on the network outage during May incident reveals that more than 1400 calls to the Triple zero emergency services could not be connected. After the first serious disruptions on network lines, Department of Communications has made 11 recommendations of which 7 directed to Telstra directly and instructions were directed to improve network back-ups and to provide live reporting. The investigation conducted by Australian Communications and Media Authority came up with a report in which it mentioned clearly that during network disruptions a total of 3912  emergency calls were attempted by the customers out of which 1433 calls failed to connect on account of disruption and remaining calls were cancelled  by the customers on account of long response time or voice announcement and call holding and waiting for an operator. The investigation team further added that on May 26, an unusual volume of calls was unintentionally directed from another carrier’s network to Triple Zero which caused heavy congestion on the lines.

Response time reliability of the service to the customers served as major concern for the rival providers and the same issue was highlighted in investigation too. Large penalties have been raised in past on account of failed emergency services connection and one such example from past is the penalty of around $400,000 paid in 2014 by TPG telecom.

In talks with Telstra, ACMA has recommended to develop new communication protocols to be used in events of another disruption and benchmarking its systems against international best practices. The Company has also entered into an enforceable undertaking with ACMA regarding making and maintenance of improvements which includes monitoring and fault detection processes and systems, network redundancy and diversity for emergency calls and infrastructure and software.

With this news surfacing up, TLS stock was slightly down on October 22, 2018 (3:40 PM AEST).

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