While rejecting the call, Communications Alliance chief executive John Stanton said, however, that mobile carriers were very conscious about their responsibilities during an emergency and “they spend a lot of resources to provide government and the community with a range of vital and complex technologies that facilitate various emergency-related features, including emergency alerts”.
“These technologies are far from simple and are subject to commercial arrangements between government and the mobile carriers. Upon government’s request, mobile carriers have put in place the sophisticated technology to be able to prioritise and deliver alerts across mobile and fixed networks with millions of messages sent across Australia each year.
“At its inception in 2009, Commonwealth, State and Territory Governments decided that those services would be provided on a national basis with fees charged to government, but no direct fees payable by the recipients of emergency alerts. In line with those agreements, mobile operators ought to be compensated for the services they provide."
And he said mobile operators were also using special "cells on wheels" in areas where mobile infrastructure had been destroyed, to boost connectivity during such critical times.
“Our industry will continue to ensure that Australians benefit from state-of-the-art emergency systems. For example, work is underway to further improve location accuracy for emergency calls to allow emergency crews to have access to more detailed information about where a person in need may be located. And, of course, mobile carriers continue to provide emergency calls without compensation and free-of-charge to the caller,” he said.