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The Emergency Alert Location Based Solution relies on the capability of each carrier to detect and locate every mobile with a last known location within the warning area set by the emergency services.
Since January 2014, Telstra’s 4G services are fully compatible with their Emergency Alert Location Based Solution. Telstra’s 4G network reaches around 85 per cent of the Australian population and has extensive reach in rural and regional communities.
While Optus and Vodafone implemented Location Based Solutions for their 2G and 3G networks in 2013, they do not yet have Emergency Alert compatible technologies in place to detect 4G mobile phones connected to their 4G networks. This also affects Virgin Mobile’s 4G customers and Optus’ wholesale partners who resell the Optus 4G network including iiNet, Internode, Exetel, M2 (consisting of the Dodo, iPrimus and Commander brands), ACN, Blink, SpinTel, Jeenee Mobile, Live Connect and Vaya.
This means that, currently, Optus and Vodafone 4G customers may only receive a location-based Emergency Alert message when they are within a warning area covered by the two carriers’ 4G networks and they have made or received a call or sent or received a text in the hour before. Such usage causes a 4G mobile to revert to the 2G/3G networks, where Optus’ and Vodafone’s Emergency Alert Location Based Solutions can detect its location. Without such usage, Optus and Vodafone may not be able to detect a 4G mobile on their 4G networks for the purposes of Emergency Alert and, therefore, the 4G mobile will not receive the location-based warning message sent to all mobiles.
This also means that when an Optus or Vodafone 4G customer travels entirely within a 4G coverage area and does not make or receive a call or send or receive a text in the preceding hour, Optus and Vodafone may not be able to detect their position for the Emergency Alert Location Based Solution. Consequently, should the customer enter a warning area within the 4G coverage when the emergency services send a location-based alert, they will not receive the message.
All 4G mobiles revert to the 2G/3G networks when outside 4G coverage. As with Telstra, Optus and Vodafone can detect the location of all mobiles on their 2G/3G networks for the purposes of their Emergency Alert Location Based Solutions.
All 4G mobiles on the 4G networks provided by Telstra, Optus and Vodafone will continue to receive warnings when the emergency services use the registered service address function provided by Emergency Alert and the address is within the warning area.
Currently, Vodafone does not provide international roaming services on its 4G networks. Therefore, overseas visitors with 4G mobiles can only connect to the 3G networks, and the current 4G capability gap on Vodafone’s 4G networks does not affect them.
Optus does allow international roaming on its 4G networks, which means international 4G customers are affected by the current incompatibility with location-based Emergency Alert.
Optus and Vodafone continue to work towards the introduction of 4G capabilities compatible with the location-based Emergency Alert.
Anyone wanting more information about 4G compatibility with Emergency Alert should talk to their mobile service provider.