COVID-19 Telecommunications Network Issues Australia

COVID-19 Telecommunications Network Issues Australia

The Personal Emergency Response Services Limited (PERSL) is the Australian peak body representing manufacturers, suppliers, monitoring services and consumers of 24/7 monitored Medical Alarms and Personal Response Services (PRS) throughout Australia.

PERSL members have reported a reduction in the quality of telecommunications services during the recent Corona-19 pandemic. This reduction appears to be affecting all networks, including 3G/4G wireless and NBN data and voice services, and is putting at risk Australia’s vulnerable PERS users and their ability to get effective emergency support as required.

Although new networks implemented by the telecommunication industry for residential customers are ‘best efforts’ networks, the current level of disruption is unprecedented.

It is very likely the service issues experienced by PERSL members are related to both the increased volume of network traffic over the past few weeks and a gradual reduction in 3G coverage. The effect experienced is that during periods of network congestion a PERS alarm call to a monitoring centre may not be successful and, although the medical alarm will retry many times, there may be a long delay in a user receiving assistance. This has the potential for serious outcomes for vulnerable Australians.

These impacts are being experienced across all areas and regions – from Residential and Aged Care facilities through to users in their own homes utilising 3G cellular services, including alarms upgraded from PSTN to 3G as part of the NBN coordinated MASS scheme.

Vulnerable Australians need to have confidence that they can use their medical alarm and contact their monitoring service provider when they need to, without telecommunication service interruption or delays. Please be assured that PERSL members are working closely with the telecommunication industry to address these issues.

For more information please access the latest information on the PERSL Web site or contact your monitoring service provider directly for support and assistance.

PERS (Personal Emergency Response Service) impact summary

– Australian PERS users should be aware that 3G/4G cellular and residential NBN services, provided by Telstra and other telecommunication industry providers, are based on new “best effort” technologies and do not have a guaranteed Quality of Service.

– It is likely that the current intermittent service disruptions due to telecommunication network congestion will be reduced when network usage reduces to pre-COVID-19 levels. At this time it is not possible to predict when this may be.

– PERSL is in the process of reporting the above issues to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and is working closely with the telecommunications industry around the immediate impact of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Telecommunications Network Issues – Medical Alarm Industry Statement – PERSL