Telecommunications company TPG has been fined $400,000 for failing to provide customers and other users with the ability to call triple-zero in an emergency.
The Federal Court found TPG contravened the telecommunication laws by failing to ensure its controlled network and facilities gave thousands of home telephone service users access to emergency call services.
The court found on 193 occasions between March 15, 2011 and September 21, 2011, TPG failed to give end users access to the emergency call services.
It also failed to ensure its networks gave end users 5979 standard telephone calls to emergency services.
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The problem arose in March 2011, when TPG took steps to increase the capacity of its systems. When coding of the software was changed, each service category had to be incorporated individually and the people whose service was considered “barred all” did not receive the amendment in the code.
As a consequence, customers in this category were unable to make emergency calls.
The case was brought to the Federal Court by the Australian Communications and Media Authority in November 2012.
The Federal Court accepted the contravention was an inadvertent “oversight” of TPG’s when it upgraded its systems in March 2011.
Despite this Justice Bromberg said in judgment TPG’s failings could have led to a person’s death.
“The lack of immediate access to the emergency call service in the event of an emergency can have very serious consequences,” Bromberg found.
“Apart from the increased anxiety and stress involved for those seeking access, TPG’s failure could easily have led to the death of a person who might otherwise have been saved”
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said in a statement this is the authority’s first action of this nature.
“This decision is a reminder for all providers that the obligation to give triple-zero access is of paramount importance,” he says.
“All Australians need to be assured that any call they make to the triple-zero emergency call service will be connected.”
TPG became aware of the problem on September 20, 2011, and the following day took measures to progressively fix the problem.