In light of the recent natural disasters in Australia over the past two months, South Australian Liberal Senator Mary Jo Fisher will today call for a Senate inquiry into the effectiveness of communications networks in emergency situations.
Mary Jo Fisher (Screenshot by Josh Taylor/ZDNet Australia)
Fisher will today call for the Senate Environment and Communications References Committee to look into the capacity of radio, telephone, internet and other alert systems to deal with emergencies and natural disasters such as the Queensland floods and Tropical Cyclone Yasi.
Both disasters caused problems for mobile communications on Telstra, Optus and Vodafone networks, mainly due to power loss at the mobile towers. However, power generators were brought in and services were quickly restored in a number of areas.
Backhaul provider NextGen had a two hour outage between Sydney and Brisbane during the floods in south east Queensland because its primary and secondary cables were compromised.
Fisher said she intends the committee to examine the impact of power blackouts on both emergency response efforts and residents in the affected areas. The committee would also be charged to examine how future disasters may affect the operations of the National Broadband Network.
Fisher also highlighted her intent to look at how digital spectrum could be used in emergency or natural disaster situations. Emergency services are seeking to obtain a block of the 700 MHz spectrum due to be auctioned off in 2012 as part of the digital dividend.
Motorola Australia earlier this week said Australia risked mortgaging its future if emergency services were unable to obtain some of the spectrum.