Telstra, Vodafone and Optus among telcos warned over Triple Zero shortcomings

11 telcos directed to comply with IPND obligations

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has directed 11 telcos, including Telstra, Vodafone and Optus, to comply with their obligations relating to the Integrated Public Number Database (IPND), which is relied on by emergency services.

The regulator also issued directions to AAPT, Agile Pty Ltd, Chime Communications, PowerTel , Primus Telecommunications, Symbio, and TransACT.

The IPND is an industry-wide database that includes all listed and unlisted phone numbers and their associated addresses. It was created in 1998 and maintained by Telstra. Under the Telecommunications Act 1997, carriage service providers are obliged to provide customer data associated with a public number to the IPND. The database includes around 72 million connected numbers.

The key data in an IPND entry include the public number, the customer’s name, the carriage service provider’s name and the service address of the customer.

The database can be employed by law enforcement organisations, national security agencies and emergency services, according to the ACMA.

Telcos face penalties of up to $10 million if they fail to comply with remedial directions, and up to $250,000 if for the directions to comply, the regulator said.

The ACMA directed telcos to conduct independent audits of their processes and data reconciliations, as well as comply with the IPND Code. In addition, Optus, Telstra and Symbio have been instructed to address “outstanding missing and inaccurate records,” the ACMA said.

“While the ACMA is not aware of any specific instances of harm caused by the missing or inaccurate information, the scale of the issue and its potential impact on emergency services is very concerning,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said in a statement.

“We’ll be looking very closely at the reconciliations and independent audit results and will consider further action if needed,” O’Loughlin said.

Last year Telstra was the subject of an ACMA investigation after a major outage of the Triple Zero service. During the outage in May 2018 some 1433 calls failed to get through to the emergency number. The telco pledged to improve the redundancy and diversity of its network to help prevent a repeat of the incident.