Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Senate Inquiry into Extreme Weather Preparedness

Frank Yardley from the NCCARF Emergency Management Network at RMIT University pointed out a Senate Inquiry into preparedness for extreme weather events. It invites submissions on the preparedness of major infrastructure, including telecommunications. My suggestion would be that as a matter of policy, the combination of the NBN and mobile phone networks should be made as reliable as the old PSTN was. This should not be just for voice calls but for data as well.

The old Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) used underground cables and switching centres with backup power supplies. The system would therefore work during power failures, floods, cyclones, fires and other disasters. The NBN relies on mains power in the customer's premises to function. While there is provision for battery backup where a voice service is provided, many people will be using VoIP via the Internet, where no battery backup is provided. Also the fibre optic cable may be more vulnerable to damage, where it enters the customer's premises. Mobile mobile phone towers may be more vulnerable to damage in disasters.

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