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The government has called the chief executives of Telstra, Optus and TPG into a new working group and flagged potential new regulations amid concerns that nearly 1 million mobile phones will be unable to call triple-zero emergency services when the nation’s 3G network is switched off this year.

Australia’s 3G network will be shut down in stages between now and September, and up to 740,000 customers may have devices that cannot make triple-zero calls, according to Communications Minister Michelle Rowland, who is co-ordinating an industry-wide effort to avoid the problem.

It’s thought that many older smartphones are 4G-enabled but default to the 3G network for triple-zero calls, meaning those devices would be unable to contact triple zero once that network is shuttered.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland.Credit: SMH

“Understandably, the government is very concerned that affected customers may mistakenly think their mobile device is fit for purpose when it would fail them in an emergency, particularly given the affected devices would work almost all the time, except to call Triple Zero,” Rowland said in a letter to telco executives seen by this masthead.

“I am also particularly worried about the implications of the Telstra 3G shutdown, given the breadth of its coverage in regional areas. As I understand it, when Telstra shuts down its 3G network, customers with affected devices will lose access to emergency calls in regional locations currently serviced by Telstra 3G that are outside Optus’ 3G coverage zone.

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“It is also concerning to me that, at present, customers do not have a simple and secure way to test whether their device is affected.”

The 3G network is being shut down so that Australia’s telcos can repurpose the 3G bandwidth for their 4G and 5G networks. A recent estimate put the total number of 3G-reliant devices in Australia at about 3 million, including phones, eftpos machines, cars, tablets, security cameras and medical alarms.

“TPG Telecom is committed to continue its close collaboration with government and industry to ensure a seamless and safe transition as the nation’s 3G networks are phased out,” a TPG spokesman said.


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#Concerns #triplezero #services #shutdown

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