All handheld satellite phone services will be required to provide access to Triple Zero from 1 July 2013, under a new ACMA proposal to amend the Emergency Call Service Determination.
While the majority of handheld satellite services supplied in Australia can access Triple Zero, these proposed rule changes will enable all satellite phone users to dial 000 in the event of a life-threatening or time-critical emergency. This is particularly important in remote Australia, where satellite phones are commonly used as emergency devices.
Satellite phone services cover the entire Australian landmass and have a similar functionality to terrestrial mobile phone services, including voice, SMS and data services. They play a valuable role in providing services in large parts of Australia that do not have terrestrial mobile coverage.
The proposed amendments are in response to concerns raised in the 2011–12 Regional Telecommunications Review.
The proposal also introduces a tightly controlled and limited exemption regime open to high-level satellite services provided to commercial users (for example, shipping, aeronautical and mining industries) in circumstances where there is little or no expectation that 000 is accessible and alternative arrangements for accessing emergency services are available. The proposed exemption arrangements do not include conventional handheld satellite phone services marketed to the general public. Customer notification requirements would also apply to all exempt services.
The ACMA is inviting the public and all interested parties to provide feedback on the proposed amendments to the Determination. Submissions are due by Thursday 28 March 2013.
Consumers who are currently unsure if their satellite phone service can access Triple Zero should check with their service provider.
The consultation paper can be downloaded from www.acma.gov.au