TPG has been hit with $400,000 worth of fines for failing to connect some of its customers to the Triple Zero emergency call service.
The fines come after the Federal Court of Australia found that TPG had contravened the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Service) Determination 2009 which requires all telco providers to give their customers and end-users access to emergency calls.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) brought the legal action against TPG in November 2012 after 5,979 home phone services were blocked from calling Triple Zero, and TPG failed to connect 193 individual emergency calls on 100 of these services.
According to a statement from ACMA, TPG advised that the problem was caused by a software system upgrade between 15 March 2011 and 21 September 2011. As a result, TPG customers who had "failed to maintain an appropriate credit balance" were blocked from all calls, including emergency numbers, "until the credit balance was restored". When the issue was discovered on 20 September 2011, TPG began correcting the error the same day.
"The lack of immediate access to the emergency call service in the event of an emergency can have very serious consequences," said His Honour Justice Bromberg of the finding against TPG. "Apart from the increased anxiety and stress involved for those seeking access, TPG's failure could easily have led to the death of a person who might otherwise have been saved."