Updated: Australia’s second-largest telecommunications company, Optus, is gradually restoring service to the millions of customers hit by an outage of mobile phone and internet services.
The outage impacted hundreds of thousands of businesses, and some government services, public health systems and public transport systems.
Optus said it began restoring services to some mobile and landline customers at about 12.30pm on Wednesday but warned it could be hours before people have full service.
“Some services across fixed and mobile are now gradually being restored,” Optus said.
“This may take a few hours for all services to recover and different services may restore at different sites over that time.
“We reiterate our apology to customers for the nationwide service outage that has occurred this morning.
“We will continue to provide updates as we have information available
“We are aware of some mobile phones are having issues connecting to triple-0.
“If Optus customers need to call emergency services, we suggest finding a family member or neighbour with an alternative device.”
When did the Optus outage start?
Many Optus customers woke up to see their phones had lost connectivity on Wednesday morning, but the outage was first noticed by Optus at 4:05am AEDT, according to the company’s CEO.
Customers managed to vent their frustrations on social media using other means, before Optus confirmed the outage.
“Optus is aware of an issue that may be impacting some of our mobile and internet customers. We are currently working to identify the cause and apologise for any inconvenience,” the company said in a statement.
On social media platform X, the Optus support team said: “Our teams are working urgently to restore services. We will provide updates as soon as possible. We apologise sincerely to our customers.”
It was later confirmed the outage was triggered by a fault in the provider’s core network and not hackers. Experts suggested the problem was most likely a software upgrade failure given that most updates occur between 2am and 4am.
It appears Optus customers have not been contacted directly by Optus via email at the time of writing.
Who was affected?
Around 10 million Optus customers were believed to have been impacted, as well as around 400,000 businesses and some government, health and transport systems.
Many businesses were unable to allow customers to make EFTPOS payments.
People who are customers of other mobile providers that use parts of the Optus network were also impacted.
Some banks had issues receiving customer calls, and some people reported issues with two-factor authentication services used by banks and online retailers to confirm their identities and transactions.
Monash University’s IP Observatory says the outage was most severe in Victoria and Queensland.
Will there be compensation?
Optus is yet to confirm details of any compensation, however chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said compensation would be considered.
“We will consider every possibility once services are restored,” she said.
Last year’s Optus data breach led to a class action lawsuit being lodged on behalf of affected customers, which is ongoing.
Law firm Slater and Gordon said it was pursuing a “substantial” compensation sum for those customers.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) says it is ready to help customers get refunds.
“If you have contacted Optus and you are unhappy with the response, you can make a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman,” it said.
Communication minister Michelle Rowland advised customers to document, in detail, how the outage had affected them, and record their losses.
“In relation to customers who have been affected … at this time it is probably too early to be discussing or be giving definitive views about compensation or other consumer rights,” she said.
“I reiterate the Telecommunication Industry Ombudsman (TIO) statement. It’s important, especially for small businesses, to keep receipts so that any recourse and any redress that may be available to them has that evidentiary base.”
© 2020 Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
ABC Content Disclaimer