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Tuesday, October 24, 2017, 1:22 PM

NBN hangs up triple zero


EXCLUSIVE.
First for Communications News.

When the copper telephone system is shut down across rural and regional Australia following the NBN roll-out the ability to make emergency ‘triple zero’ phone calls in an emergency such as Black Saturday will be lost.

On Black Saturday the first utility lost was power. Followed in under two hours’ time by surviving (not damaged or destroyed by bushfire) mobile phone networks also going off-air as the surviving mobile towers power back-up systems ran out of back-up power.

The NBN -and your landline telephone connected to it- need power to operate, unlike the ‘old’ copper telephone network.

Tumut Shire (NSW) General Manager Bob Stewart told ABC News Riverina in May 2016 that “As we understand it, with fibre you can’t send electrical impulses down there, so 000 calls won’t be able to be made if there is prolonged blackouts from the home phone, unless you have your own uninterrupted power source.”

“Not every house has an uninterrupted power source, or indeed a mobile, or a satellite phone.”

NBN Co told the ABC that during a power outage, telephone and internet services connected to the network were unlikely to work without a battery backup.

A spokeswoman said as part of the installation of NBN, residents and business owners had the option to add a battery backup service, which could be ordered through their retail service provider.

She said the network had built-in backup power supplies to keep the network’s nodes functioning, but any electronic equipment connected to the network would need its own separate battery backup to work. (ABC Riverina)

Many Murrindindi Shire residents remember only their fixed ‘landline’ home phone still working following and during Black Saturday. This won’t be the case with NBN.

A separate and independent 12 volts direct current (12 VDC) supply is needed to keep a landline working, unlike the copper telephone network. One then needs a back up power source, such as a car battery or generator with DC output to keep their home phone working in an emergency.

With mobile phone communications networks rely on buildings and towers usually at a high location, such as Kinglake, Mt Dandenong, Mt Macedon or hill to send a radio signal from the building to an antennae on the tower.

The location of most mobile phone towers are in high-risk fire prone areas, leaving only those with UHF citizens band (CB) radio or amateur radio operators the only means of requesting emergency assistance or communicating with the outside world.

There will be no triple zero. It won’t work.

“It is really the matter of the Government to come with some practical method, I believe, to handle emergency calls,”  Stewart told ABC Riverina.

“As I said, not everyone has an uninterrupted power source, not everyone has mobile phones, and a satellite phone is very expensive to have for a one-off emergency.

Mitch Fifield, Federal Minister for Communications, did not return calls from Kinglake Ranges News for comment.


Disclosure: Ashley Geelan is a licensed amateur radio operator, VK3HAG.
Tumut Shire general manager, Bob Stewart is chairman of the Tumut council’s emergency management committee.


Text & Images ©COPYRIGHT 2017 Kinglake Ranges News.

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