The government is seeking expressions of interest to provide 'enhanced service' for the Triple-Zero emergency call service.
Communications Minister Mitch Fifield sent out a press release on Thursday morning to announce the move, calling it an "important step in ensuring Triple Zero remains a highly-trusted and reliable service for all Australians when they need to request emergency assistance." A tender has been released for private companies to put their hands up to run the service, with the search on for a provider "which can keep pace with new and innovative technologies."
Telstra currently runs the service. Fifield said the tender was put out after recommendations from the 2014 'Review of the National Triple Zero (000) Operator'. The report outlines that "the Australian Government and Telstra agreed that Telstra would continue as the national Triple Zero operator for up to 20 years, subject to a competitive tender to be issued by 23 June 2016. The tender provides a valuable and timely opportunity to reconsider the arrangements for the national operator."
The government has given less than two months for "interested parties" to register their interest in providing the service. Documents on the government's tenders website say that providers:
- must be "capable of meeting community expectations to be able to contact the ECS anytime, anywhere, easily, quickly and free of charge."
- "will be obliged to receive and handle contacts made to Triple Zero and 112 and transfer such calls to an appropriate Emergency Service Organisation (police, fire, ambulance)."
- "must ensure that each month, 85 per cent of calls to Triple Zero and 112 are answered by a call-taker within five seconds of reaching the relevant answering point for the call, and 95 per cent of calls are answered by a call-taker within 10 seconds of reaching the relevant answering point for the call."
"Australians' expectations regarding emergency assistance have changed since Triple Zero was introduced as a voice-only service in 1961, when fixedline telephones were the primary means of communication. Today, the majority of calls to Triple Zero come from mobile phones, and the rapid development of new technologies has enabled a range of new communications options," Fifield said in a statement.
"The EOI process is the latest step in ensuring all Australians have access to a world-class service which can keep pace with new and innovative technologies."
The government said 8.35 million emergency calls were made to Triple Zero and 112 last year.