CHOICE membership

Phone Issues - using the keypad for 'connection to' options could be life critical!

I’ve been connected to NBNCo for a year+. However recently, when using my phone to just about any organisation/company, Gov’t Dept, even NBNCo and Telecommnication Ombudsman, where you are immedeantely presented with options to deal with your specific need, it requires you to enter a number on your phone keypad to get any further, the keypad entries aren’t recognised. Very few orgs have a fail safe option, ie, if you select nothing you are transferred to the operator, but the latter is extremely rare. Instead you loop infinitely around options, unable to make phone contact at all. This may even occur with more life critical services, I don’t know.

This is recent, so suggests a change to the NBNCo technology created the issue.

There may be get arounds, for the individual, my ISP has said it is probably a NBN router issue. That seems odd as it has worked fine for over a year! So guidance there might be handy. Sounds like an NBNCo and/or ISP task.

However, if as I suspect this is a systemic issue, created initally by NBNCo, I feel they ought to be involved in the solution at there end and at the setup end.

Further all organisations need to be made aware of the issue so that they include a fail safe option to their operator.

It is one thing to hope that the technically savvy will resolve this, but those that are not, and those in life critical situations, it is unreasonable to expect lay people to resolve this.


When this problem happens are you using the phone network to make your call, or phone over wifi via the nbn? This latter option has recently become available to me ( a few months ago), although I haven’t felt any need to use it.
I have not encountered your problem at all.


I’m my using my conventional landline cordless handpiece and my landline phone number but via the NBN router rather than the copper wire of old.


Over time I learned that many if not all cordless phones have a setting for DTMF (ie push button tone signalling) duration and sometimes that needs to be increased a bit.

If @longinthetooth has been using a corded phone, or if the problem cannot be overcome by a longer DTMF on a cordless, I recommend lodging a formal complaint to his RSP citing the recent service problem and the RSP’s ‘maybe it is this, maybe it is that, maybe it is the NBN’ circular fob off. At the least they should be able to do a test that the NBN VOIP service is within reasonable technical parameters. It also could be a change at the destination organisations side!

You might be interested in this related topic.


There are some basic steps to take before you log any fault to isolate the cause of the problem.

I am assuming from your posts that your wireless base station is connected into your VOIP port on the router.

Firstly, connect a wired phone (not cordless) directly to the VOIP port of the router. Borrow one if you don’t have one, or even buy a really cheap one. (I have kept several different old phones just for such testing.) Doing this, you have eliminated the cordless handset being at fault, and also any possible transmission problems from the phone to the base station.

With the wired phone connected to the VOIP port of the router check if the tone dialing of numbers works when making selections.

If the dialling works, then the problem lies with your phone set-up. It could be in the handset or with the transmission from the handset to the base, or even with the base. Try dialling from the base station if that is possible. Perhaps that might work when dialling from the wireless handset doesn’t.

If it doesn’t work, then when logging the fault with your RSP as @TheBBG suggested, tell them you have done this so they don’t blame your equipment for the fault, and it may save having to test things while on the phone to them.

Hope that helps.

Let us know what happens.


Increasingly, organisations are using voice recognition (rather than IVR via the keypad) - which could be one step forward and one step back. How do you find that option for reliability, if you have encountered it?

Probably. DTMF for IVR, has always been problematic with computer network based voice calling e.g. VoIP.

However NBNCo very likely won’t talk to you directly.

I don’t have NBN (LOL, NIML) so can’t provide any specific guidance but do you have access to the router so that you can examine the many settings that might relate to this?

What codec are you using? You probably don’t want the lowest bandwidth (most ‘efficient’) codec. What are the options your router is giving you?

What DTMF Transmit method are you using? What are the options your router is giving you?

(The point here is that there are two basic ways of doing DTMF with VoIP.

  1. Do nothing. Just send the DTMF tones as normal encoded audio and hope that the quality of the audio is good enough for the other end to understand the DTMF tones.
  2. Intercept the DTMF tones at your end - in the VoIP box - and remove them from the audio and encode them as digital data, transmitted separately from the audio data, either in-band or out-of-band. This way requires compatible support by the box at your end and the box at the VoIP provider’s end.

Hopefully this illustrates why DTMF for IVR is a silly hack when it is used with VoIP.)

In the first instance I would call the company that provides your phone service - if you can get through to them. LOL.

As written by TheBBG, it would preferable to reproduce any problem with a corded phone, since cordless phones can be subject to their own interference or other problems.

The government might argue that unless DTMF problems happen when calling 000 then this doesn’t apply. Never having had to call 000, and in any case not recently, I don’t know whether 000 has any IVR menus.


ACMA’s page about 000 ( and other emergency numbers ):

Late last year I connected a second-hand ISDN desk phone to my router, and needed to change the router settings for DTMF, as no tones were being sent ( I had previously used an IP desk phone that had worked with the default router settings ). The router has four options, and I started at the top of the list and worked my way down until I found one that worked.


From that page:

You can call 000 using the Emergency+ app on your smartphone. One advantage of using the Emergency+ app to call 000 is that if you don’t know your exact location, the app will use the GPS on your smartphone to help you to give emergency services your location.

The Emergency+ app is available to download free of charge from the Google Play store and Apple App store.

I wonder whether the app only reports your location when you make use of it?


It also requires GPS/location to be enabled, often battery draining that everyone would not be happy about. The license is also pretty awesome and worth a read. Not sure if I am agreeable or not after having a look. Bottom line is if you enable GPS the app might work and there is all care and no responsibility nor liability involved.

Edit: I gave it a go and it did not have my location correct (a home in the next street backing mine) so would send help to somewhere it was not needed while I waited, and waited, but it does display where it thinks you are and seems to allow you to tell the operator your real location. Nothing seems too good for us. The advantage over calling 000 seems marginal.


Depending on what operating system you are using … you should set the permissions in the operating system so that the app only has access to the GPS when you are using the app. Or even disallow access to the GPS by the app completely provided that in an emergency you are going to have the presence of mind to change the permissions to allow access to the GPS by the app (if that’s what you want).

Eventually none of the above will matter because supplying your location (from GPS or WiFi or towers, or any combination thereof, whatever gives the most accurate fix on your location) will be automatic by the phone when you dial 000 (or 112). Next Generation Triple Zero is coming

Meanwhile @longinthetooth has either got DTMF working or has given up …

1 Like

These are the permissions for the app running on Android…this app has access to:


  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage


  • precise location (GPS and network-based)
  • approximate location (network-based)


  • directly call phone numbers


  • read the contents of your USB storage
  • modify or delete the contents of your USB storage


  • receive data from Internet
  • view network connections
  • full network access
  • prevent device from sleeping
  • read Google service configuration

All seems relatively benign…and reading/deleting data ans access to storage appears to be that associated with the app.

Which operating system?

1 Like

Apologies, only checked the android ones. Have amended the above post to make clearer.

Maybe someone could check Apple OS permissions.

1 Like

I’m embarrassed to say that I don’t know how to do that. LOL.

On an iPhone there is no need for a fandangled app to get your GPS location. Just use the built-in Compass app. It will give you your lat and long (in degrees, minutes, seconds).

So Apple always knows where you are? Sounds much better! /s


Is that to suggest we should much prefer Apple to know where we are, rather than say Google?

Or like everything else, one way or another your location is discoverable, if only through your mobile phone provider triangulating you’re location.

As much as we might think we can, migrating our lives to permanent stealth mode for most is too challenging.

P.s. on the original topic, it’s a great prompt to check out the functioning of our VoIP connection on the NBN HFC service.

  • That is a genuine concern.
  • Seriously, Apple writes the whole operating system. Why would one Apple app make the slightest difference? The operating system “controls” access to the GPS. It can access the GPS regardless. If it unintentionally or intentionally fails to control access to the GPS then so can an app.
  • You have no way of knowing whether or not Apple always knows where you are. The operating system is closed source. The Compass app is closed source. The Emergency+ app is closed source (as far as I know).

If you don’t like the above - and there are genuine reasons not to like the above - then don’t use either Android or iOS.

However regardless of the trustworthiness or verifiability of the operating system in respect of GPS, the operating system and the mobile service provider and the government know approximately where you are all the time anyway - unless you switch off your mobile phone (or use flight mode - and both of those are only if you trust the operating system) or don’t have it with you.

Might not work in a rural area where only one tower is able to receive your phone. In that case, the sole tower can get a rough fix on your location (tower coverage area, sector, rough range from signal strength maybe), but nowhere near good enough to send Emergency Services directly to your location. Similar problems would arise if exactly two towers are able to receive your phone, but the rough fix is less rough.


Edited to delete misleading reply. Ouch! Sorry.

I think they determine distance from signal timing events. Apparently not, apologies, I rechecked my original reference which was second hand from Whirlpool. which provides a reasonably accurate measurement of distance. Per later post @postulative referencing Wikipedia.

The cell arrays do not have any means of precisely determining your direction. Although obviously they have a designed arc of operation which narrows it down a little.

For a critical rescue knowing from just one tower the general direction and reliable range (arc) might be enough for a rescue service to locate you. Perhaps a little less quickly than knowing an exact coordinate reference.


The “/s” indicates sarcasm. Apologies for any confusion.

Actually, this control probably sits at a much lower level - probably on a chip made by Broadcom or similar with flaws yet to be discovered by white hat researchers. This article from 13 years ago shows the direction that particular market was taking and has probably continued to take since then.

The chipset that actually looks after telephony has been shown to have major security flaws. (Citation not found in 30 seconds of searching, but I was listening to stories about it last year.)

I don’t think the tower even has the smarts to identify the direction from which the signal arrives. That would require extra complexity, and cost. The whole thing with triangulation is that you need three points of reference to get an accurate location. Two might seem sufficient, but not in a three-dimensional world. GPS apparently uses trilateration. In fact, this Wikipedia entry confirms that GSM uses multilateration (not triangulation).


Um well yeah there can be any number of additional problems but in terms of a decision between using the built-in Compass app or the Emergency+ app or neither those additional problems are a constant.

It is common on cell towers to use multiple sector antennae (on different sectors) in order to improve frequency utilisation. I can’t swear to you though that information about which antenna is being used for a given client device is added as a tag so that that information would be available for location. Logically, for receiving, such tagging would not be needed but for responding (transmitting) such tagging would be needed i.e. hence it would be available.

The Wikipedia entry appears to confirm that sector information is available (where sectors are used).

That might make it even worse though in really remote areas - only one tower in range and a single antenna with 360 degree coverage.

In rural areas, the tower is likely to be using a lower frequency (e.g. 700 MHz) in order to get wider coverage per tower, which again makes the search area for emergency services greater.