The Federal Court has ordered TPG to pay an AU$400,000 fine for failing to connect 193 calls from 100 houses to the Triple Zero emergency call service.
The case was brought to the court by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) at the end of 2012, after an investigation found that due to an error in a software upgrade, 5,979 customers between 15 March, 2011 and 21 September, 2011 who had failed to keep a credit balance did not have access to the Triple Zero emergency call service until they added credit to their account.
In that time, the ACMA determined that 193 calls to police, fire, or ambulance services were attempted from 100 homes, and those calls did not connect.
TPG said it was made aware of the problem on September 20, 2011 by a customer, and TPG fixed the issue on the same day.
Justice Mordacai Bromberg found TPG liable, and said that the lack of access could have had very serious consequences.
"Apart from the increased anxiety and stress involved for those seeking access, TPG's failure could easily have led to the death of a person who might otherwise have been saved," he said.
ACMA chairman Chris Chapman said all telecommunications providers need to ensure that customers have access to Triple Zero services.
"All Australians need to be assured that any call they make to the Triple Zero emergency call service will be connected," he said in a statement.