Since 1993 the VKS-737 Radio Network has been providing a wide range of support services to remote area travellers equipped with High Frequency (HF) radios, these services provided by a network of nineteen Base Stations include:
- Direct medical emergency access to the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
- Direct emergency access to Police & Emergency Services.
- Regular daily voice safety logging schedules are provided through some VKS-737 Base Stations and can provide road and weather reports upon request, position reporting and message handling.
- Access to 4WD repairs, recovery and spare parts providers.
Over the past few years the Network has had many enquiries from Satphone users who do not own HF radio equipment about the possibility of using the VKS-737 Radio Network in times of emergency – unfortunately the technology that was previously available prevented us from providing this service.
A recent major upgrade to VKS-737’s internal telephone system has resulted in changes in the way that incoming calls via the VKS-737 Base Stations can be handled:
- Selcalls to the Operator 1 number on any of the VKS-737 Base Stations results in the call being simultaneously directed to a large number of rostered operators – the first operator who answers the call then handles the enquiry or emergency as may be the case.
- VKS-737 subscribers who are unable to call in by radio (i.e. due to a broken antenna etc.) but are able to access a landline telephone, a mobile telephone or a satphone can now ring an unlisted subscriber number which results in the call being simultaneously directed to a large number of rostered operators – the first operator who answers the call then handles the enquiry or emergency as may be the case.
- Should the need arise an operator answering a call has the ability to obtain assistance from another operator or an external emergency organisation either by utilising the conference call facilities on the telephone system or via the VKS-737 V-Rep Logging System.
There has been much written about the lack of common emergency numbers available for Satphone users particularly when users have a minor problem that they need assistance with which does not require a call to 000 or a to a 1800 roadside assistance number etc. – this is compounded by the fact that many Satphone services do not allow dialling to numbers such as 000, 112, 1300, 1800 etc.
In addition to the above the new telephone system will enable the Network to offer VKS-737 services to Satphone users who do not have HF radios. However it should be emphasised that unlike HF subscribers, all Satphone calls to VKS-737 will be charged to the caller at the normal call rates by their service provider. Further whilst calls can be made by Satphone subscribers to the VKS-737 Network, calls will generally not be made from the VKS-737 Network to the subscriber.
All Satphone subscribers will be issued with a unique Callsign to identify them when they call the VKS-737 Network. This will allow operators to readily identify them and enter the call details into the V-Rep Logging System.