This week’s Optus outage highlights the need for mandated domestic mobile roaming in regional, rural and remote Australia, Member for Mallee Anne Webster says.
The outage, which impacted 10 million Australians, provides evidence that a mandated mobile roaming pilot program in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia should be facilitated, while broader capacity in the network should be built up.
“As households and businesses face a cost-of-living crisis this outage by one of the country’s biggest telecommunication companies could not have come at a worse time,” Dr Webster said.
“Common sense is needed, by starting mobile roaming in regional, rural and remote areas we can target it in the areas of greatest need while potential pressures of roaming on the metropolitan network capacity can be worked through before rolling out in the densely populated capital cities.
“The urgency for the regions is the tyranny of distance we face and the threat of natural disaster emergencies such as the upcoming bushfire season – we cannot afford to be cut off from communications for hours which happened this week.”
Currently Australia does not allow for emergency mobile roaming, which is a significant safety issue in regional areas – although it does allow for emergency calls to 000.
“The ACCC recently completed an inquiry into regional mobile infrastructure and found that emergency mobile roaming is beneficial during times of natural disasters or other emergencies,” Dr Webster said.
“The Communications Minister and Emergency Management Minister have both tasked their respective departments to work with carriers and report back to the government by March 2024 however this may be too late with a hot Summer and fire season to come.
“Australians deserve and need adequate and reliable mobile coverage now.”