When the earth moves, people want to talk

Media Release, 20 June 2013

When Victorians felt the earth move last night with the strongest earthquake in 109 years, for many their first move was to reach for their phone and call friends and family.

The Telstra network saw a fourfold increase in call numbers in Victoria in the immediate period after 9.00pm compared to the same period before. SMS message levels also more than doubled in the hour after the earthquake compared to normal levels.

Telstra Director of Network and Commercial Planning, Anthony Goonan, said that while social media was quick to report the trend, in a situation like an earthquake people clearly prefer to be connected and talk to each other about their experience.

‘We have innovative technology to monitor calling patterns on our network to optimise performance and delivery of services. What it showed is the impact of the earthquake in a very short time span and how customers really reached for the phone to talk to people,’ Mr Goonan said.

‘Our biggest spike in call numbers was noticed immediately at the time of the earthquake, at 9.00pm, and demand gradually returned to normal levels at around 10.20pm. The call traffic at its busiest was equivalent to our peak call volumes in the day.

‘We can look at the dynamic demand handled by Telstra’s Mobile Network by looking at numbers of calls made on network base station infrastructure and create maps to show the extent of the incident and how different areas talked about it.

‘An incident like this really reinforces the community benefit of the investment that we have made in our network to help people stay connected at times like these. Even then there may be times because of the size of the peak some customers may have to make a repeat attempt to get access the network. Thankfully this earthquake was short in time and caused little damage, but the data clearly shows how people respond and why we place such an emphasis on continuing to build our Next G® network enabled with 3G and 4G technologies,’ Mr Goonan said.

The image attached demonstrates the call volume period over the time of the earthquake.