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Australia to have a class system for mobile calls?

Important decision makers and emergency workers may have first dibs for mobile service in the future, with the government looking into introducing a priority call system across multiple operators.
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Written by Suzanne Tindal on

Important decision makers and emergency workers may have first dibs for mobile service in the future, with the government looking into introducing a priority call system across multiple operators.

The Attorney General's office put out a tender last week for a feasibility study to investigate the possibility of setting up such a scheme — called a Wireless Priority Service System (WPSS) — which gives some listed users access to mobile networks in front of others.

A similar system has already been implemented by mobile carrier Telstra, according to the tender documents, which signed a contract with the Department of Defence in May 2007 to deliver a single-carrier WPSS.

This was put into place for 1000 priority users on 1 August 2007 in time for the September APEC meeting, the documents said. Since then it has remained in place, giving safety and emergency response personnel priority access to the mobile network.

The government now wants to know if a multi-carrier WPSS is technically and financially feasible on existing telecommunications infrastructure, and the tenderer will need to find the cost of including each carrier in a multiple-carrier WPSS as well as show options for transition from the existing single-carrier WPSS infrastructure.

If found to be feasible, the tenderer will prepare a plan for the development of a multiple-carrier WPSS, scheduled to start on 1 July 2009.

The WPSS is part of the Communications During a Crisis initiative, according to the Attorney-General's Department Coordination Centre Web site, and is intended to make sure key decision makers and emergency responders have access to mobile telephone networks.

Priority users do not take precedence over calls already taking place or emergency calls according to the tender documents.

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