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National Messaging System

Connecting Australia in times of disaster

The ability to send critical messages, alerts and warnings to at-risk communities during an emergency, disaster or crisis, helps to safeguard communities against the loss of life, injury and damage to property.

A quick, effective and reliable telephony-based messaging system able to send messages supports the community’s ability to act quickly and decisively against loss of life, injury, damage to property, and reduces the spread of misinformation during a variety of unpredictable threats and disasters.

The Australian Government has committed funding over four years from 2023-24 to build a trusted National Messaging System (NMS) that targets messaging in real time during emergencies. 

National Messaging System

The NMS is intended to reliably deliver telephony-based warning messages to compatible devices, locally, regionally and nationally, in near real-time. Cell broadcast technology enables a point-to-area communication between mobile operator’s radio cell tower(s) and all devices in a specified geographic area. 

This system will enable prioritised near real-time messages to mobile devices in defined geographic areas during emergencies such as bushfires, floods, and events affecting national security.

Advantages of a National Messaging System

  • Standards based – Cell Broadcast is defined by international standards and supported on carrier networks. The system will be upgraded in line with future changes to the international standards.
  • Internationally proven - There are many countries already using Cell Broadcast as the basis for a public warning system. There are 21 of the 33 developed nations that have deployed telephony-based public warning systems are employing Cell Broadcast, including Canada, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom (in progress).
  • Message priority levels - Messages can be sent with varying levels of priority. Priority levels may be used to differentiate how messages of varying levels of importance are displayed on a receiving mobile. 
  • Message delivery not impacted by network congestion - Cell Broadcast technology is not affected by, nor does it contribute to, network congestion which is a common occurrence during emergency and disaster events. During periods of network congestion, Cell Broadcast messages can still be delivered to mobiles without interruption or delay.  
  • Speed of delivery - Compatible devices in the coverage area can receive Cell Broadcast messages simultaneously without having to wait for a message to be specifically sent to that device. Messages can be sent and received in near real-time. 
  • Message length - Cell Broadcast supports messages of up to 1,395 characters. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is this initiative being funded?

Implementing a NMS capability will help deliver on the Australian Government’s commitment to supporting states’ and territories’ emergency management needs and addressing findings of the Royal Commission concerning the need to improve Australia’s information and warnings system technology.

The Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements 2020 (the Royal Commission) found emergency warning systems are fundamental to governments’ ability to deliver messages quickly to alert the public to emerging and imminent threats. 

What will the funding provide?

The National Messaging System (NMS) will be fully operational by late 2024. The Australian Government is providing funding over four (4) years.

The funding will support the:

  • development of the Cell Broadcast Entity (CBE)
  • implementation of a Cell Broadcast Centre (CBC) in each mobile carrier’s network
  • roll-out of a national public awareness campaign
  • creation a of national training program for government agencies and state and territory users.

Integral to this is the co-design of national operating protocols governing the use of the NMS, and a comprehensive national testing process.

What is the timeline?

The 2023 Budget announced funding for the implementation of the National Messaging System (NMS), including sustaining the system into the future, network integration, and investment in a public awareness campaign to prepare the Australian public before its launch. 

To ensure fairness in upcoming procurement processes, the specific funding allocation is not public at this time.