Telstra looks to establish 000 back-up plan

TELSTRA has responded to the public's demand for a better 000 connection back-up plan after two elderly people were left without phone reception or access to emergency services in their time of need during the Australia Day long weekend communications breakdown.

Colin Gray, 81, and Fay Craigie, 75, died just days after their home alert buttons, connected to 000 through Telstra, failed during the telecommunications blackout.

The head of Telstra's group looking into the company's service review, Channa Seneviratne, said one of the review's key findings was that Telstra mobile services were locked to the Telstra network during the outage.

Mr Seneviratne said Telstra had worked with its mobile phone vendor Ericsson and with equipment in its lab to introduce a feature for the network of north Queensland phones that would essentially "unlock" the phone's network if the service was out, and send calls through another carrier like Optus or Vodafone.

Telstra director for network operations Grant Nicholson flew to Brisbane this week to meet with potential stakeholders following the company's review of its network services.

Mr Nicholson said a second solution identified in the review included the construction of a third back-up cable to service 000 landline calls in the event of a network blackout.

He said Telstra was now talking with emergency services and state and federal governments about sharing the findings of its review and the opportunities to roll-out solutions like mobile network unlocking to customers across Australia.

Member for Dawson George Christensen praised the company's work.

"I think the security and integrity of the system will probably be the best that you can have," he said.

"For the families of Fay Craigie and Colin Gray, I suppose it's cold comfort but they have both been part of an exercise to ensure this doesn't happen again by spearheading a petition," Mr Christensen said.


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