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Triple zero emergency hotline access to be strengthened

A major Optus outage in November prompted regulations for telco providers.

A major Optus outage in November prompted regulations for telco providers. Photo: AAP

A triple zero hotline will be shored up after an Optus outage left Australians in need in the lurch.

Following a federal inquiry into the crippling outage, the Albanese government promised to improve accountability of telecommunication giants and boost oversight of the emergency network.

There will be rules mandating how, what and when telcos communicate with customers during and after a major outage.

A testing regime will also be set up to ensure the emergency hotline remains accessible.

The review recommended carriers conduct testing every six months to ensure sustained access to the emergency network.

The industry will need to give the regulator a work plan after a major outage that explains how an impacted company will work to prevent one in the future.

Triple zero legislation and regulation will also be reviewed.

The government will implement all 18 recommendations of the review, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said.

“Australians need to have confidence in our telecommunications services, particularly when it comes to triple zero,” she said.

Optus experienced a 14-hour network outage in November that left more than 10 million customers and thousands of businesses without phone or internet services.

Thousands of triple zero calls were unable to get through.

While Optus said the issue had been addressed, the outage showed the need to fix the flow of information to customers and technical supports when it comes to the emergency hotline, Ms Rowland said.

“This review means we have a workable blueprint to implement changes that will help improve the resilience of telecommunications in this country,” she said.

“Every part of the system needs to do better and these recommendations will help us do just that.”

-AAP

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