On Wednesday, November 08, almost half of Australians- over 10 million, were left out of internet and mobile services after a major shutdown that lasted hours. This happened when the country’s second-largest telecom service provider Optus saw its network crash affecting large demography across Sydney to Perth. As a result, not just the mobile users but even the trains, commerce, and other service sectors were impacted. Some have called this network failure a “disgrace” as the company struggled to establish the cause behind it before fully restoring it after big damages.
On Wednesday morning, users noticed that they were not able to either place a call or use mobile data. Soon, it became a national outcry with many even opting to make a switch to other operators.
An “absolute disgrace”
Australia’s Communication Workers Union declared the Optus network outage an “absolute disgrace”. The strong sentiment was shared by many including the users and the ministers. The country’s Communications minister Michelle Rowland said that the outage occurred due to a “deep fault” in the company’s fundamental part. She warned that the incident would have “wide ramifications across mobile, fixed, and broadband services” for customers and urged the company to respond accordingly. She added that customers were experiencing “a high level of anxiety and frustration”.
In a frenzy that ensued, the company recommended customers find an alternative device. As the network failed to restore, media reports that many disgruntled Australians went to stores of rival operators to buy a new SIM card. Some of them sought free WiFi to get the connection.
You may also want to read: Rogers Network Resumes After a 19-hour Outage in Canada
The company apologized
Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the Chief Executive Officer of Optus apologized via a radio station in Sydney and promised that the company was doing everything at its disposal to restore the network.
As mobile users were locked out of cellular services, trains also suffered. The Melbourne metropolitan train services came to a halt from about 4.30 a.m. for communications difficulties arising from the outage. The trains were restored before 6:00 a.m. but the network continued to struggle before coming to its full restoration. Additionally, call centers that provide government services were also affected.
What caused the outage?
Even after hours of the Optus network outage and its restoration, the cause behind it hasn’t been established yet. The company’s CEO Rosmarin denied that a network upgrade had to do with it. Some have pointed out though that this might have been due to the increase in the border gateway protocol (BGP). CloudFlare noticed an increase in the BGP of the Optus network when it went offline. It was a similar reason Meta services went offline for hours in 2021.
Compensation is on the way!
Optus, in the meantime, has offered some measures for a safe landing. It requested the customers “small businesses” to keep receipts to seek compensation. Earlier, Australia’s National Retail Association director Rob Godwin had said the network disruption cost his members “thousands of dollars” in sales. The South Australia premier, Peter Malinauskas, warned that he would consider agreements with Optus.
What is also worrying is that Optus was a victim of a cyberattack in 2022 which resulted in the exposure of personal information of its 10 million customers. However, Optus CEO Rosmarin ruled it out and said that it was an outage of a “very rare” nature.
Optus network came to its full function by 6 p.m. while gradual restoration had already begun from noon.
Many Nepalese work and live in Australia and presumably many are on Optus subscriptions. If you were one of those locked out of mobile and data services due to this Optus outage, do share your experience with us in the comments below.
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