Proposed measures can ease phone congestion

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 January, 2003, 12:00am

A report commissioned by the Office of the Telecommunications Authority (Ofta) has recommended several improvements in order to relieve the effects of telephone network congestion (to deal with emergencies and severe weather conditions), and prevent a repeat of what happened on September 11 last year.

The report recommended that technology should be introduced to restrict call attempts at the network edges (known as call gapping) by all fixed-line and mobile-phone operators. Secondly, improved information exchange between the network management centres of all operators was also suggested. Ofta must make these recommendations mandatory for all operators to keep the effect of future network congestion to the minimum.

One alarming issue raised by the report is the handling of emergency numbers like 999 by network operators. The report indicated that only one Hong Kong mobile operator had dedicated routes to the police emergency centre. Emergency calls are handled with all other calls. Therefore, emergency calls cannot be connected when there is network congestion.

Ofta should ensure priority handling and a dedicated route for 999 calls are made mandatory for all fixed and mobile-phone operators.

The consequences of unconnected 999 calls due to network congestion in a real emergency could be disastrous.