Emergency calls

3G network shutdown in Australia – impact on emergency calls

Our three national major mobile network operators are shutting down their 3G mobile networks which will result in 3G services no longer being available across the country.

TPG Telecom completed closure of its 3G network in January 2024. Telstra is scheduled to close its 3G network at the end of June 2024 and Optus is scheduled to commence closure of its 3G network in September 2024.

All mobile users with 3G-only handsets will need to upgrade to at least a 4G device to continue to receive a mobile service. All smartphones released over recent years are able to access 4G networks and many also have 5G connectivity.

It is important to be aware that some older 4G phones that do not support Voice over LTE (VoLTE) will not be able to make emergency 000 calls once all 3G networks are turned off in Australia.

What is VoLTE?

Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is a feature that enables voice calls to be made using 4G networks. Some 4G phones may require users to turn the VoLTE setting ON. 

All mobile users are strongly encouraged to check their network operator’s website for a list of known mobile devices that do not support VoLTE calling.

If you receive advice from your mobile network operator that your phone does not support VoLTE, you will need to upgrade your phone to be able to make a voice call once your network operator has closed its 3G network.

Emergency calling

In addition to supporting VoLTE, your mobile device must support VoLTE emergency calling to make an emergency call. If your 4G device does not support VoLTE emergency calling, you will not be able to make an emergency call when 3G services become unavailable.

If you receive advice from your mobile network operator that VoLTE emergency calling capability of your phone is unknown, you should check your device manual or contact the manufacturer or retail provider.

Do not test your phone’s capabilities by calling 000. Testing your phone while there is still an active 3G network will result in your call connecting regardless of which network operator has 3G services still available. This may give you a false sense that your phone is working when it may not support VoLTE emergency calling.

Further information: 3G network switch offs.

Triple Zero service

The Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts advises the Australian Government about Australia's regulatory framework for the national emergency call service.

Triple Zero (000) is the number most Australians will use to call police, fire or ambulance in an emergency situation. Triple Zero can be dialled from any fixed or mobile phone, pay phone and certain Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services. Emergency calls go to a national operator, who sends them to the appropriate local police, fire or ambulance service.

There are also two secondary emergency service numbers—112 and 106:

112—the international standard emergency number, which can only be dialled on a digital mobile phone. It does not require a simcard or pin number to make the call, however mobile coverage must be available from at least one carrier for the call to proceed.

106—the emergency number which connects to the text-based relay service for people who are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment, which can be called from a TTY (also known as a teletypewriter or textphone).

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) regulates and monitors the provision of the emergency call service under:

Find out more

Advanced Mobile Location (AML)

Advanced Mobile Location (AML) was deployed in 2020 as an enhancement to the national Triple Zero (000) Emergency Call Service. AML is a technology that enables a user’s mobile phone to provide their location coordinates to emergency service organisations when they call 000. AML assists police, fire and ambulance services to locate people calling 000 faster.

Emergency alert warnings

Emergency Alert is the national telephone warning system used by State and Territory emergency service organisations to send voice messages to landlines and text messages to mobile phones within a defined area about potential or actual emergencies.

Find out more at www.emergencyalert.gov.au