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ComCom considers 111 contact code

Sarah Putt, Contributor. 19 September 2019, 11:36 am

Three-quarters of 111 calls are made from a mobile phone, but what happens if the user is out of mobile range or doesn't own a mobile phone? And as fibre is rolled out to 87% of New Zealand homes, and the Rural Broadband Initiative improves rural connectivity through advanced wireless networks, how can those with landlines make emergency calls?

These are some of the questions being posed by the Commerce Commission, as it develops safeguards to ensure vulnerable consumers can contact 111 in the event of a power cut. It has released a consultation document that will help inform a new 111 Contact Code.

Telecommunications Commissioner Dr Stephen Gale said the 111 Contact Code is intended to outline the steps telecommunications providers must take to ensure consumers can continue to call emergency services in a power cut when they move to new technologies.

"The transition to fibre and wireless technologies is well underway and once fibre has been rolled out in areas, and we have put a number of safeguards in place, Chorus will be able to choose to stop supplying copper services," he says.

"As the copper network is gradually withdrawn there may be a small number of New Zealanders who could be left without the means to call 111 during an emergency if they have a power failure. The 111 Contact Code we are developing is intended to put in place protections for those vulnerable consumers."

Together with the consultation paper, the Commission has produced an infographic which outlines the issues relating to 111 emergency calling. Like most of the infographics I've seen produced by the Commission, it lays out the issues at hand in a way that is simple and easy to understand. The mix of policy questions and practical tips is a good way of ensuring that people from a range of perspectives can be informed about this new programme of work.

Submissions on the consultation document close on 11 October 2019, a draft Code is due to be released for consultation in February 2020, with the final Code to be published in June 2020.

You can learn more about the 111 Contact Code here.


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