Optus promptly advised customers who needed to call emergency services to find an alternative device
In a substantial service disruption, Optus, one of Australia’s prominent telecommunications providers, witnessed a nationwide outage lasting approximately eight hours, which left millions of customers and businesses without mobile and internet services.
The disruption began around 4 a.m. AEDT, causing a frenzy of concern among affected users. The company’s services were gradually being restored, as indicated by an Optus spokesperson, who added that it might take a few services to fully recover. In the event of an emergency, when contacting triple zero, Australia’s emergency services number, some mobile phones experienced issues connecting to 000.
Optus promptly advised customers who needed to call emergency services to find an alternative device. This unexpected disruption also saw Optus using its presence on social media platform X, to suggest finding a family member or neighbour with an alternative device in case of emergencies.
Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, Optus’s CEO, provided updates during the outage and stated that services were gradually being restored, although the exact cause of the disruption remained unclear. In her earlier comments, she had noted that a hack was highly unlikely as the reason behind the outage.
The outage caused ripple effects, affecting critical sectors such as healthcare and transportation. Hospitals across Australia were among the affected, with hospital phone lines compromised. Furthermore, Melbourne’s entire train network came to a halt due to the outage, impacting daily commutes and transportation services.
Notably, other companies relying on the Optus network, including Aussie Broadband, Amaysim, CatchConnect, Coles Mobile, Dodo, and Moose Mobile, were also affected by this widespread disruption.
The outage report started emerging at around 4 a.m. on a Wednesday, causing significant inconvenience to users. The gravity of the situation was heightened by the fact that Optus’s earlier statement indicated that triple zero calls from landlines would not function as expected during the outage.
The Australian Federal Communications Minister, Michelle Rowland, noted that there was a protocol in place to allow Optus customers to switch to other mobile networks when needing to call triple zero. Consequently, a significant increase in camping calls was observed as a result of the outage.
At this juncture, it’s too early to discuss compensation for those affected by the outage. However, Rowland advised small businesses to retain their receipts, serving as an evidentiary base for any potential resource and redress.
Moreover, she called upon Optus to effectively communicate with its customers regarding the issue at hand. The disruption appeared to stem from a core fault within the network infrastructure.
David Coleman, the opposition’s communications spokesperson, didn’t mince words when describing the outage. He referred to it as “catastrophic” and emphasized that it was an unprecedented incident that required Optus to take all possible actions to resolve the situation. He also urged the government to actively assist Optus in resolving this significant issue.
Optus, the second-largest telecommunications provider in Australia, with a customer base of 10.2 million and several government contracts, faced extensive challenges during the outage.
Melbourne’s metro trains were affected as they use Optus for both primary and backup communication systems. The impact also extended to healthcare services as well. Hospital phone lines across the nation were affected. New South Wales Health also confirmed that some of its phone and internet services were adversely affected. As a result, the healthcare sector is working diligently to reduce disruptions and maintain essential services during this period.
Notably, Coles and Woolworths, two of Australia’s leading supermarket chains, reported that their stores remain unaffected by the outage. However, several small businesses experienced difficulties in processing transactions, highlighting the wide-ranging consequences of the disruption.
In a digital age where online banking and two-factor authentication services play a crucial role, the Optus outage also affected the Commonwealth Bank. Some customers may encounter difficulties with services such as online banking as a result of the disruption, underlining the extent of the impact on financial services.
All the services, however, are progressively restored. Optus now is expected to continue addressing the root cause of the disruption to prevent similar incidents in the future.