Optus Outage: Cause Revealed As Customers Rage

The Optus outage that crippled the nation last week was caused by a routine upgrade however experts question the telecommunications providers lack of backup systems or business continuity planning.

Optus has revealed that last week’s massive network outage was caused by a “routine software update gone wrong”, but some experts say key questions remain unanswered even after the explanation.

Optus National Outage Affects Millions Of Customers

The telco, which admitted it took longer than it would have liked to investigate the cause, said routers disconnected from its core network after the maintenance.

“At around 4.05am Wednesday morning, the Optus network received changes to routing information from an international peering network following a routine software upgrade,” an Optus spokesperson said.

“These routing information changes propagated through multiple layers in our network and exceeded preset safety levels on key routers which could not handle these.

“This resulted in those routers disconnecting from the Optus IP Core network to protect themselves.”

Optus’s offer of free data to customers and small businesses left without phone or internet services on Wednesday has been labelled inadequate and a “hollow gesture” as the industry ombudsman advises Optus may be on the hook for more compensation. Many customers demand that one of more months bills to be cancelled or slashed as a token instead however in an interview with News Corp earlier in the week, the CEO, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin ruled out compensating customers financially, arguing it would amount to about $2 for a day of lost coverage.

On Thursday, the telco’s embattled CEO, said the company was “deeply sorry” for the outage that took down internet and phone services as well as trains, hospital communications and a range of other services for 14 hours on Wednesday. Bayer Rosmarin said there was “nothing we can do to make up for” the outage, but said the company wanted to acknowledge customer patience and loyalty with 200GB of data for small businesses and consumers, and unlimited data on weekends for eligible prepaid customers until the end of the year.

Optus Customers Have Begun to Receive This Message Offering Apologies over the Outage.
<br>Optus customers have begun to receive this message offering apologies over the outage

Andrew Williams, the chief executive of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, said the company’s gesture appeared to be “token”.

“The consensus we’re hearing from consumers is that, frankly, it doesn’t nearly make up for the inconvenience caused by the outage,” he said, noting it was an opt-in offer, which he said made it “even more of a hollow gesture”.

The nationwide blackout left 10 million Australians without phone or internet access for more than 12 hours on Wednesday.

He said most customers do not use up their allotted data allowance, and spend most of their time connected to wifi at home or at work.

“It is doubtful that many customers stand to benefit from the additional data.”

The small business ombudsman, Bruce Billson, said the offer was inadequate.

The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO), Cynthia Gebert, said the offer wouldn’t meet the expectations of customers who suffered significant loss.

Many small businesses were forced to turn away customers, close early. State agencies including emergency services could not be reached and many workers working from home could not connect to office systems or attend team meetings. 

The government has since revealed that telcos could be forced to let customers roam rival networks during outages under a plan Optus opposed.

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