ACMA takes steps to safeguard free emergency call access via VoIP

New obligations for telco providers

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is seeking free-of-charge access to emergency call services for 'two-way' and 'dial-out only' Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

The ACMA is seeking the amendments to the regulatory obligations for telecommunications providers through the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2002 legislation.

As new and innovative services are introduced, the proposals are designed to provide greater certainty for consumers when it comes to emergency call access.

ACMA's proposals deliver on recommendations for emergency call access contained in the Examination of Policy and Regulation relating to VoIP report by the Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts, released in November 2005.

Chris Chapman, ACMA chairman, said the current emergency call service arrangements have served the Australian public well and the goal is to maintain this safeguard.

'Many VoIP providers already provide free-of-charge access to triple zero and these proposals clarify that the obligation applies to all VoIP services capable of dialling into the public telephone network," Chapman said.

ACMA is also proposing that VoIP services must be flagged in the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND) so that the emergency call service operator will know to ask the caller for location information.

The IPND is a national database of all listed and unlisted public telephone numbers, customer name and address information and the name of the customer's carriage service provider.

Details of the proposed changes are contained in a consultation paper and draft amendment, released for public comment today and available on the ACMA Web site.

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