Emergency calls claim dismissed

Digicel Samoa has dismissed reports that 911 calls from their numbers are delayed. 

“We have not received any official complaints from F.E.S.A. (Fire Emergency Services Authority) and neither from any of our customers about any delayed calls issue,” the company said in a statement. 

“All our systems are working perfectly fine.”

Digicel was responding to questions from the Samoa Observer following concerns by members of the public regarding the delayed calls. 

But F.E.S.A’s Assistant Commissioner, Aufa’i Petaia Tausanimaiomanu, said the delay is because the call is routed firstly to BlueSky before reaching the 911 line. 

“All calls are diverted to BlueSky,” he explained. 

“If you call from a Digicel number, it all has to go through BlueSky and the difference is only one ring.

“So the delay is actually one ring and then the second ring is to 911. That’s the same problem we had with the old numbers 994-995.

“The problem is not us, the problem is with the phone company. 

“And we asked them to do something about it. This happens everywhere else in the world, depending on the type of system that is being used.”

Aufa’i said the matter has been raised with the Regulator who oversees the Telecommunication companies. 

“We have suggested for the phone companies to look at whatever features that is needed to improve this service.” 

According to Aufa’i, this issue makes it seem like BlueSky callers are prioritized while Digicel calls are rerouted.

That is not case, he assured.

“So we are working on fixing that at the moment,” he said. 

Aufa’i explained this is a pertinent concern because they are now overseeing the 911 line, unlike before, the other emergency numbers were directed to the Police and F.E.S.A.

“We know for a fact that BlueSky calls go through directly to the 911 line, however I can’t say the same for Digicel, it’s one ring delayed. And yes it is a concern for F.E.S.A.” 

The F.EV.S.A. Commissioner, Lelevaga Faafouina Mupo, says the 911 system in place is temporary and they have already placed the order for a new system. 

“So the new call center system, which costs more than $200,000, should be arriving in a few months and it should be up and running before June 2018,” he said. 

According to the Commissioner, they have 13 operators who are on standby to take any emergency calls from members of the public.

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