Everything went wrong for Optus and Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the telco’s CEO, yesterday. Around 4am, reports emerged suggesting that Optus’ network was down, including all of its mobile sub-brands.
Optus’ 10 million customers were unable to make calls or use their mobile data. Some were even unable to make 000 calls. Thousands of businesses were affected, with eftpos terminals failing and hospitals being unable to perform their functions — even Melbourne’s metro train network ground to a halt.
Bayer Rosmarin said that a “technical network fault” was to blame but would not specify what the problem was or where or how it occurred. By late Wednesday afternoon, all services had been restored but the damage was doe.
“There is no soundbite that is going to do it justice, so we want to really bottom out the root cause and when we have that very clear and in a digestible form, we will be forthcoming,” Bayer Rosmarin told the AFR.
However, Rosmarin said that she had “no idea” how long it would take to do a “full and thorough root cause analysis”. She also admitted that the outage was not “something unusual in the grand scheme of things when you’re operating a critical infrastructure like we are”.
The company’s first statement appeared online at 6.45am, acknowledging the issue. Bayer Rosmarin did not speak publicly until a radio interview at 10.30am.
“We’ve been extremely forthcoming with information and we’ve put a notice out straight away. We’ve kept our messaging very simple and easy to digest,” she told The Australian.
“But with customers not being connected to our network, they can’t always receive messages from us.”
“As a critical infrastructure provider, we aim to give our customers a service that works 100 per cent of the time every day of the year, 24/7, and on most days we succeed,” she said.
“Today was a day where we didn’t succeed in achieving that, but it’s a very rare occurrence”.
It was such a rare occurrence that the total failure of the network has been deemed unprecedented by technology experts. However, Bayer Rosmarin ruled out refunding customers, nothing that “refunding people for one day is probably less than $2”.
“We are going to look at how we reward our customers for their loyalty and patience,” she told The Daily Telegraph, deciding rather than direct compensation that “we might choose to do something that is more valuable.”
“We are going to look at how we reward our customers for their loyalty and patience”, she said, although she repeatedly declined to be specific.
If it couldn’t get any worse, communications minister Michelle Rowland announced a post-incident review into the outage. The telecommunications regulator has begun a separate assessment of reports that some customers couldn’t make 000 calls.
Rowland said it was “critical” for the government to conduct a review of the outage to identify lessons to be learned.
“Connectivity is absolutely essential for Australian consumers and businesses, and the impacts of this outage were particularly concerning,” she said announcing the review in a statement on Thursday.
In a statement, Andrew Sheridan, Optus’ vice president of regulatory and public affairs, said: “Optus looks forward to fully cooperating with the proposed reviews by both the Department of Communications and the ACMA into yesterday’s network outage.
“As a critical infrastructure provider, we understand how important it is to ensure continuity of service and any lessons learnt are likely to be helpful for both Optus and others in our industry.
“We value our customers’ loyalty, and are looking at ways to say ‘thank you’.
“Optus once again apologises to our customers and others that were impacted by the outage.”
Last year, Optus was the victim of one of the most significant data breaches in Australian history.
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