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8-Hour Widespread Outage Impacts Optus Services in Australia

by Rahil M
0 comment

Optus, Australia’s second-largest telecommunications provider, is working to restore its services after a nationwide outage that disrupted millions of customers and businesses. The outage began at 4 a.m. AEDT and impacted mobile and internet services across the country. The company stated that services were being gradually restored but cautioned that it might take a few hours for all services to recover.

A major concern emerged when it was reported that some mobile phones had issues connecting to the emergency services line, 000. An Optus spokesperson advised people in need of emergency services to try finding an alternative device or contacting a family member or neighbour who might have one.

Impact Across Various Sectors

The impact of the outage extended to various sectors with hospitals across Australia experiencing phone line disruptions. Additionally, Melbourne’s train network came to a halt due to the outage, leading to major delays. Several other companies that rely on the Optus network, including Aussie Broadband, Amaysim, CatchConnect, Coles Mobile, Dodo, and Moose Mobile, were also affected.

Triple Zero Calls and Emergency Services

One of the most concerning aspects of the outage was the disruption of the triple zero emergency services line. An Optus spokesperson acknowledged the issue, stating that some mobile phones had difficulties connecting to the emergency services number, 000. They advised people to try finding alternative devices or reaching out to family members or neighbours in case of an emergency. Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland explained that a protocol was in place to allow Optus customers to use other mobile networks when needing to call triple zero. This protocol has been put into action during the outage, leading to a noticeable increase in camping calls.

Optus CEO’s Response

Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin confirmed that services were starting to come back online, but the root cause of the outage remained unclear. She had previously stated that a hack was highly unlikely to be the cause and emphasized their focus on restoring services. The company is considering compensation as a gesture of goodwill to its customers for the disruption.

Disruption in Hospitals

The outage had significant consequences for healthcare facilities across Australia. Hospitals, including those operated by Ramsay Health Care, reported that their phone lines were down. Ramsay Health Care operates 73 private hospitals and day surgeries across Australia. Public hospitals like Northern Health and Eastern Health in Melbourne, which run around a dozen public hospitals and the state’s virtual emergency department, also experienced phone line issues. A New South Wales Health spokesperson confirmed that some of its phone and internet services were affected and that efforts were underway to minimize disruption to services.

Impact on Transportation

Melbourne’s train network was severely affected by the outage. The entire metropolitan train network experienced a halt due to what was described as a “communications error” linked to the Optus outage. Train services resumed shortly after 6 a.m. but with major delays. Metro Trains’ chief executive, Raymond O’Flaherty, said that about 500 services had been cancelled. Melbourne’s Metro Trains relies on Optus for both its primary and backup communication systems.

Effect on Businesses and Two-Factor Authentication

The issue also affected businesses, with many small enterprises reporting difficulties in processing eftpos transactions. Additionally, the outage impacted two-factor authentication services that rely on Optus to send out codes via text messages to confirm a user’s identity. Commonwealth Bank mentioned that some customers might encounter difficulties with services such as online banking as a result of the outage.

Concerns and Reactions

The widespread outage had ripple effects across various sectors in Australia, highlighting the critical importance of a reliable telecommunications network in the modern digital age. Several companies that rely on the Optus network were affected, leading to disruptions in essential services. While service restoration efforts are ongoing, the outage has prompted concerns about emergency services accessibility, particularly the triple zero line.

Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland mentioned it was too early to discuss compensation for those affected. Still, she encouraged small businesses to keep receipts as evidence in case they need to pursue recourse for losses incurred during the outage. She also called on Optus to communicate effectively about the issue and address the frustration of its customers.

The opposition’s communications spokesperson, David Coleman, described the outage as “catastrophic” and called on Optus to resolve the issue swiftly. The impact of the outage underscored the necessity for a robust and resilient telecommunications infrastructure to support various sectors, including healthcare, transportation, and commerce.

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