Is calling Triple Zero (000) from a mobile phone reliable?
Mobile phones enable individuals to call the Emergency Call Service from
most places in Australia. However, the nature of mobile handsets and mobile
networks means that in some circumstances these calls are not as reliable as
calls from the fixed network.
Problems that may be experienced when making a call from a mobile phone to
the Emergency Call Service include :
- bad reception, making it difficult for the emergency service operators
to understand the caller;
- a remote location may result in limited or no network coverage being
- running out of battery; and
- a lack of precise location information about the call.
Special roaming capabilities of the vast majority of mobile phones when
calling Triple Zero (000) mean that when you are out of your service provider's
coverage area but are in another carrier's mobile phone network coverage area,
your call will be carried on the other carrier's network. However, it is
important to realise that if there is no mobile coverage, you will not be able
to reach the Emergency Call Service via a mobile phone, and alternative
devices, such as personal location beacons (PLBs) should be considered. PLBs
are equipped to send a distress signal with location details on a dedicated
radio frequency that communicates with Search and Rescue operators.
How will the operator know where I am if I call Triple Zero (000) from a
When calling Triple-Zero from a mobile phone you should be prepared to
provide as much information as possible to emergency service operators about
the location of the emergency.
If you are unable to identify your whereabouts, mobile carriers can provide
emergency services with location information in most cases.
However, the accuracy of this information can be affected by factors such as
obstructions to mobile reception or the number of mobile phone towers nearby.
It should be noted that mobile location will only be possible where network
coverage is present.
It would be advisable for people travelling into areas where mobile coverage
may be poor or unavailable, to investigate carrying an alternative personal
safety device. In remote areas, for example, a Personal Locator Beacon (or
EPIRB - Emergency Position-Indicating Radio Beacon) may be a suitable
If I have GPS on my phone can emergency services use that to locate
Australia's mobile networks cannot automatically transmit GPS data from a
handset to an emergency service call-taker at present. If you do have a GPS
enabled handset, you can however verbally convey your estimated geographic
position to emergency services and this may assist them to locate you. You
should be aware that many GPS applications are very battery intensive which may
result in you not being able to call Triple Zero (000) at all.
How do I know what areas have mobile coverage?
Mobile phone service providers have coverage maps available from their point
of sale locations, and upon request. All the carriers (Optus, Telstra and VHA)
have good coverage in the major population centres, but in regional areas only
one or two of these are likely to provide sufficient network coverage.
In these areas, if your mobile phone service provider does not have network
coverage for normal phone use, or to enable a Triple Zero (000) call to be
made, a call to Triple Zero (000) will be carried if another carrier has
sufficient network coverage in the area.
Can I call 112 from a mobile phone?
112 is a secondary emergency number that can be dialled from mobile phones
in Australia. Special capabilities, including roaming, once only existed when
dialling 112, however mobile phones manufactured since January 2002 also
provide these capabilities when dialling Triple Zero (000) to access the
emergency call service. It is important to realise that if there is no mobile
coverage on any network, you will not be able to reach the emergency call
service via a mobile phone, regardless of which number you dialled.
Will a 112 call be carried by satellite if there is no mobile
Satellite phones use a technology which is different from that used by
land-based mobile phones, and your mobile phone will not be able to access a
satellite network. It is important to realise that if there is no mobile
coverage, you will not be able to reach the Emergency Call Service via a mobile
To gain access to a satellite network you
will need to obtain a satellite phone and a subscription to a satellite service
that provides coverage in Australia. Satellite based networks are generally
designed to provide coverage throughout Australia and, in particular, to places
outside the coverage areas of land-based mobile phone networks.
Can I call 112 from any type of service?
No. Dialling 112 from a fixed line telephone in Australia will not connect
you to the Emergency Call Service. It is only available from digital mobile
Can I call 911 from my mobile phone in an emergency?
911 is used by emergency services in the United States. Not all mobile
phones can access Australia's Emergency Call Service by dialling 911. You
should use Australia's primary emergency service number, Triple Zero (000) or
the secondary emergency service number of 112 which can only be dialled on a
digital mobile phone. While dialling 911 from some mobile phones may provide
access to the Emergency Call Service, such access is not a formal feature of
Australia's telecommunications system and should not be relied upon in an
Can I send a text message to Triple Zero (000)?
No. It is not currently possible to contact Triple Zero (000) or 112 using
the SMS text facility on your mobile phone.
Can I call Triple Zero (000) from a locked handset?
From the vast majority of mobile handsets you can call Triple Zero (000)
without having to unlock the keypad or key-in a security-protection Personal
Identification Number (PIN). However, you should check your handset manual for
information regarding emergency call dialling.