New rules for locating mobile calls to Triple Zero | ACMA

New rules for locating mobile calls to Triple Zero

ACMA Media Release 10/2011 - 28 January

Police, fire brigade and ambulance services will more readily be able to access location information about callers using mobile phones, as a result of new rules made by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The new rules require mobile carriers to provide emergency service organisations with the most precise mobile phone location information available for emergency calls made from mobile phones, in situations where a Triple Zero caller is unable to verbally report their location.

'Locating callers quickly and with confidence is clearly a crucial element of the Triple Zero emergency call service. The ACMA's new rules enable emergency service organisations to access the most precise location information that is currently available on the mobile networks and also to automatically capture the benefits from any future developments in location-based services offered by the mobile carriers,' said Acting ACMA Chairman, Mr. Richard Bean.

Mobile phones now account for around 63 per cent of calls made to Triple Zero. Unlike fixed landline phones, emergency calls from mobile phones do not automatically give emergency service organisations accurate details about a caller's whereabouts.

This is not an issue for the vast majority of mobile calls made to Triple Zero because, in most cases, the caller can tell the emergency operator where they are located, including where the emergency is at the subscriber's address. But there are times―estimated at less than one percent of calls-when people are too distressed or unfamiliar with their environment to report their location. In these cases access to enhanced location information will assist emergency services organisations to locate callers.

The new Determination requires mobile carriers to:

  • provide the most precise location information they have available on request from an emergency service organisation
  • resolve emergency call location queries with the highest possible priority
  • ensure emergency service organisations are provided with a designated contact point and telephone number for location queries, or have a dedicated process for location queries
  • assist an emergency service organisation to identify the relevant mobile network carrying the emergency call.

The Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 1) will commence on 20 April 2011. This will allow carriers time to trial their systems before making the enhanced capability available to all emergency service organisations.

The new rules were made after consultation with mobile carriers, the Emergency Call Person (Telstra) and emergency services organisations, and have the support of all groups as an important step in improving the delivery of mobile location information to enhance the emergency call service.

In addition, the ACMA is continuing to explore with industry and emergency services organisations the potential automatic provision of enhanced mobile location with every emergency call.

It is worth noting that mobile coverage is not universally available outside population centres and Australians should not assume they can be located accurately and quickly anywhere in Australia. If people travel away from population centres and into areas without mobile coverage, they should take personal safety precautions and consider using other mobile safety devices such as personal locator beacons.

The ACMA regulates and monitors the provision of the Emergency Call Service under Part 8 of the Telecommunications (Consumer Protection and Service Standards) Act 1999. Further information about its role with Emergency Call Services is available.

The ACMA is Australia's regulator for broadcasting, the internet, radiocommunications and telecommunications. The ACMA's strategic intent is to make communications and media work in Australia's public interest. For more information: www.acma.gov.au.

Follow the ACMA online



Last updated: 25 May 2016