Optus says routine software upgrade caused 14-hour network outage | Optus


The telco will set up a complaints team for small businesses after criticism of its compensation offer of 200GB of free data

Optus says Wednesday’s 14-hour outage was the result of a routine software upgrade that took Optus’ network offline and forced staff to physically restart services across the country.

It comes as the company moved to establish a dedicated complaints team for small businesses affected and said it would work to “address concerns” following criticism of the company’s compensation offer.

A spokesman confirmed on Monday that the cause of the outage was changes in routing information from an international peering network following a routine software upgrade at 4.05 Wednesday.

“These routing information changes propagated through multiple layers of our network and exceeded pre-set security levels on key routers that could not handle them. This resulted in these routers disconnecting from the Optus IP Core network to protect themselves,” a spokesperson said.

“The restoration required a large-scale effort from the team and in some cases required Optus to physically reconnect or reboot routers, which required dispatching people across a number of sites in Australia. This is why the restoration was progressive throughout the afternoon.”

This explanation was consistent with what experts had suggested caused the outage.

The company announced last week that it would provide 200GB of free data to mobile and small business customers. The move was described as inadequate and a hollow gesture for the 10 million customers who were left disconnected.

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On Monday, Optus announced it would move forward for small business customers and set up a “dedicated specialist team” to assess complaints about the outage.

“We will look at the customer’s specific circumstances and work with the customer on what options we can take to address their concerns,” an Optus spokesperson said.

The company has launched a page where people can get their 200GB free data. For mobile customers, people can get 100 GB per billing cycle for the next three cycles by activating it via their Optus app.

NBN customers are also being promised faster speeds for December as part of what Optus says is a gesture of goodwill.

It comes as the telco prepares to deal with the government’s response to the outage. In question time on Monday, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said last week’s outage underlined how important connectivity is to all Australians.

“The consequences were felt across the economy and society, with impacts on eftpos systems, hospitals and public transport, and consumers and business customers were understandably frustrated,” she said.

“For some small businesses it represented a full day’s trading. For Australians with a disability, including those who rely on internet-assisted technology, the outcome would have been deeply concerning.”

Rowland said the Department of Communications was working on its terms of reference for a review to reduce the risk of a future disruption to this case occurring while the Australian Communications and Media Authority (Acma) conducted a review into how Optus mobile customers were unable to dial 000, despite provisions in place to allow it without the Optus network running.

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“Our Government will carefully consider the recommendations of the upcoming reviews to ensure regulatory and policy settings adapt and respond to keep Australians safely and reliably connected,” she said.

The company’s embattled chief executive, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, will face a Senate inquiry into the outage for two hours on Friday morning. The chair of the committee, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, described the 200GB offer as “pretty pathetic” and said she would seek the company to be more transparent and accountable for what caused the outage.

She told Nine News her first question to Bayer Rosmarin will be: “Why didn’t you pick up the phone and tell the government and the minister what was going on?”