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Vodafone Oz pulls claim of Android 4.1 emergency call problems

Blog post down, eyebrows up

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Internet Security Threat Report 2014

A blog post from Vodafone Australia alleging a bug in the latest version of Android has been pulled, casting doubt on its claims that emergency calls may not work on the new Jelly Bean edition of Google's mobile OS.

The post was made last Thursday, July 19th, when a post titled “Nexus S by Samsung – Android 4.1 update” stated “the roll-out the of Android 4.1 Jelly Bean update to Vodafone Australia customers has been delayed.” The news disappointed many as the Australian carrier was set to be the first in the world to offer customers access to the new version of the operating system.

The reason? Here's what the post offered at the time:

“It’s been advised the software currently does not meet all the Australian regulatory requirements related to emergency calls”

Fast forward to today and the blog post is gone. It's still in Google's cache, if you want a look, and we also snagged this screen shot of the blog, lest you think we're fibbing.

So does Jelly Bean have an emergency calls problem, in Australia or elsewhere?

Oddly, no-one seems to know.

A Google Australia spokesbloke told El Reg “Unfortunately there's nothing I can share” on the matter. Samsung's people have been trying to get an answer out of their execs since Friday, but they've been hard to reach in part because they're in court on an Apple-related matter.

The organisation which sets standards for emergency calls in Australia, The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), told us it “... is not aware of the basis upon which Vodafone has determined that the Android 4.1 Nexus S software does not the regulatory requirements.”

An ACMA spokesperson did, however, point out that there are two requirements for a handset to meet its emergency call standard, and those two insist that mobile phones must:

  • be capable of initiating a call to 000 when a SIM is not present in the phone, or that the phone is out of range of the home network; and
  • when the handset is only capable of making 000 calls, indicate to the user that only emergency calls are possible.

ACMA helpfully suggested we ask Vodafone what's up and the carrier did (after quite few voicemails over three days), telling us that “technical issues” were behind the original post, but that it has no more details it is willing to divulge.

Last week's post was disappeared, a spokesperson added, because “”it was specific to the information we had at the time” and “could confuse customers.”

The carrier therefore “took the post down until we have more information to share” and promises a shiny new blog post revealing all once it can reveal all.

We do hope no-one involved in the saga tries to transmit information for that post under emergency conditions, as communication seems hard enough on this issue when everyone is in their offices. ®

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