ICT Minister Steven Joyce says that terms of reference for a government review of the emergency calling service have been agreed to.
The 111 review has been prompted by disruptions to the service earlier this year. These included the failure of a call to connect to 111 during an XT Network outage in Christchurch and a failure for Telecom landlines in Auckland and Northland.
Following these failures Joyce urged telcos to sign up the Telecommunication Carriers Forum Emergency Services Code. According to the TCF website the following companies are currently signatories to the code: CallPlus, 2degrees Mobile, Kordia, Orcon, Telecom, TelstraClear and Vodafone
Joyce says the 111 review will provide certainty of about how the service is governed. “In particular it will clarify who will have operational accountability for the delivery of 111 calling service in each of the component parts, and who will have accountability for funding, maintaining, auditing, investigating and enforcing delivery of the 111 service component parts,” he says.
The review’s terms of reference have been discussed with emergency services and telecommunications providers.
Telecom, which currently has the primary responsibility for delivering the service, issued a statement welcoming the review and the “whole of industry approach” to maintaining the emergency calling systems.
The statement – which was not attributed to an individual Telecom executive - claimed that historically 111 is very robust and operates at 99.9999 percent reliability. It receives over two million calls a year, of which 48 percent are non-genuine. Under the TSO, Telecom is required to answer 85 percent of 111 calls within 15 seconds but in practice it says 95 percent of all 111 calls are answered within five seconds.
Joyce says in addition to the review, other initiatives include a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Telecom regarding its 111 delivery, a MoU between Telecom, Vodafone and 2degrees regarding emergency roaming, and the creation of a joint industry/government advisory board to oversee coordination of the emergency service activity.
The Ministry of Economic Development intends to prepare a draft report for consultation with emergency service providers and telcos is expected by 30 April 2011.