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Telstra pips Optus on warning system

The Victorian Government has announced that Telstra has been chosen to build a national phone-based warning system.

The Victorian Government has announced that Telstra has been chosen to build a national phone-based warning system.

Up to $15 million will be tipped into the project by the Commonwealth Government for construction of the new system, which is planned to alert Australians in the event of a life-threatening emergency, according to a statement by the Victorian Government today.

"The system will alert communities to emergencies via a recorded voice message on landline telephones and a text message on mobiles based on the subscribers' billing address," Police and Emergency Services Minister Bob Cameron said in a statement.

The system should be implemented by the end of October with testing to take place throughout November, according to Cameron.

The system, flagged in May, has come as a result of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission which interrogated the state's handling of the 7 February 2009 disaster.

The Commission had found that unprecedented calls to triple-zero services had resulted in large numbers of calls going unanswered or abandoned.

Cameron said Telstra had been awarded the contract after a rigorous tender process. ZDNet.com.au understood that Optus had also placed a bid for the work.

Both Telstra's and Optus' communications infrastructure, such as mobile towers and fixed line networks, were severely damaged by the fires in February this year. Days after the fire, Optus had restored services to several affected areas using temporary base stations.

Cameron said Victoria wanted the system in place before this summer, which he said, experts had predicted could be worse than the last.

Telstra chief David Thodey said the telco was well placed to develop and build this crucial system. "Telstra is extremely proud that our technology will be used to assist emergency service organisations by delivering warnings to communities through the telephone system," he said.