Optus triple-zero failure during mass outage 10 times worse than reported


Communications Minister Michelle Rowland says the telco industry must implement improvements. Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland called the development “deeply disturbing”.

“This new information will be considered by the ACMA as part of its independent investigation into Optus’ compliance with the Telecommunications [Emergency Call Provider] Determination 2019,” Rowland said.

Optus interim chief executive Michael Venter on Tuesday offered his “deepest apologies” to customers unable to access triple-zero services during the outage.

“There is nothing more important to us than the safety and security of our customers, but regrettably on November 8 we did not meet the standards our customers and the community expects from us,” he said.

“We are writing to each customer individually to apologise for this and provide the opportunity to discuss their specific circumstances, and whether there is anything we can do to assist them further.

“We know we let our customers down and our entire team is committed to addressing all learnings from the outage.”

The November outage impacted rail networks, hospital communications and businesses across the country, and cost Bayer Rosmarin her job. Optus is still searching for her replacement.

Optus provided affected customers with free data, but not monetary compensation.

Optus provided affected customers with free data, but not monetary compensation.Credit: Chris Hopkins

The government announced a post-incident review on November 9, “to ensure industry and government capture lessons from the outage and implement improvements”, Rowland said.

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young in December also called a follow-up Senate hearing for February 9, with banking executives, the communications watchdog and executives from Telstra and TPG set to give evidence.

“We will look to call the other big telco companies and the corporate regulator to give evidence, along with a number of the big banks whose services were impacted by the Optus fail,” Hanson-Young said.

“Access to data and online services is a part of our everyday lives. Australians deserve to know that when something goes wrong, there is a plan in place for accessing these essential services.”

Optus said the outage was the result of a routine software upgrade from its parent company, Singtel, that took its network offline and forced staff to physically reboot services. The cause of the outage was first revealed by this masthead.

The Business Briefing newsletter delivers major stories, exclusive coverage and expert opinion. Sign up to get it every weekday morning.