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Telecom NZ and 111 Service

( Telecom New Zealand said today the company had spent several millions of dollars on improvements to processes and systems around its management of the core 111 system following service issues earlier this year.

“New Zealanders should have faith in the 111 service, which has achieved close to 100% reliability over the past 50 years,” said Telecom CIO David Havercroft.

“This service is provided without financial assistance from the government. Every year our call centres answer more than two million calls – 95% of them within five seconds. We take our role extremely seriously.”

Today saw the release of various reports looking into the 26 February outage involving the Papatoetoe exchange, including Telecom’s own investigation into the outage.

“Officials, the government, Telecom and its technical partners have rightly regarded the Papatoetoe incident with the utmost seriousness, and have looked carefully at its causes. Actions to rectify identified issues are now completed or well advanced, along with Telecom’s ongoing investment in its networks,” said Mr Havercroft.

Telecom’s own report sets out the many corrective actions Telecom has taken in response to the issues highlighted by the Papatoetoe outage. These actions include:

– Triggers for testing and mitigation work have been lowered;
– To increase redundancy (back up), an additional 111 trunk enabling 111 traffic from the Auckland region to be served via Hamilton has been implemented. This significantly improves the capacity and resilience of 111 traffic from Auckland. Similar changes are being implemented throughout New Zealand;
– All Telecom network events’ notifications now include an assessment of 111 impact (if any); and
– A single-point of accountability has been appointed within Telecom to oversee all 111-related issues.

Mr Havercroft also noted that far-reaching change across the industry, and in particular the rapid advance of mobile communications, has raised important questions about the future management and measurement of the 111 service.

“We have set out our approach to this issue in our CEO’s letter to the Minister of Communications, also released today.

“Telecom believes there is a need for clear governance and greater transparency across the entire 111 system to maintain public confidence.

“New service providers have entered the market, fixed/mobile substitution and convergence is occurring, and the move towards all-IP services over fibre is transforming the industry in New Zealand. Over 60% of 111 calls are now made from mobile phones. It is important that new governance arrangements reflect this reality of New Zealand’s telecommunications market today.

“We believe there is need for a lead Government agency to have oversight of the 111 system.

“While the reliability of 111 calls depends on several factors such as the customer’s handset, the service provider’s network, the initial call answering point and the emergency service provider call centres, currently there is no clear responsibility for coordinating the 111 system across government.

“While these issues are worked through, Telecom’s position is a very clear one.

“We will remain resolutely focused on ensuring the core 111 system keeps working as close to 100% as it is humanly possible to achieve.

“And we will work with officials, other providers, industry and consumer bodies and others to advance the discussion around future governance models for a service in which all New Zealanders have a vital interest,” said David Havercroft.

Media Release 9 July 2010 from Telecom NZ.



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