Vodafone Hutchison Australia has now signed on to provide location-based emergency warnings during times of disaster or national emergency.
The telecommunications company joins Telstra, which made the decision to assist in the development of a national emergency alerts system in January. The upgraded alerts system builds upon the existing national emergency alert telephone warning system, but addresses the issue that alerts need to be sent to mobile phones, including those who visiting a disaster affected region, not just landlines.
The Victorian Government is overseeing the negotiations with Telstra, Vodafone and Optus on behalf of the nation. Today, Victorian Deputy Premier Peter Ryan, together with Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon, announced that the state had come to an agreement with Vodafone to sign on to the warning system.
"Getting emergency warnings out effectively during a natural disaster is absolutely critical; I'm pleased Vodafone has come on board to do this," Roxon said.
Telstra's SMS-based warning service is expected to come into operation this November, but given Vodafone's delay in signing up to the proposal, Vodafone will not be ready until November next year.
This concern was previously raised by the Attorney-General's Department Secretary Roger Wilkins during Budget Estimates earlier this year, who then highlighted that, without including all carriers, the national approach to the system could be undermined.
Roxon and Ryan said that negotiations with Optus are progressing positively and are expected to be finalised shortly, but also clarified that the alert service should not relied on as the only source of emergency information.
"It is important that people tune in to the radio, check emergency services websites, and stay aware of conditions," Ryan said.