Govt launches review of catastrophic Optus outage

The federal government will conduct a post-incident review of the nationwide Optus outage that left millions of Australians without mobile or broadband connectivity for more than 12 hours on Wednesday.

Communications minister Michelle Rowland announced the review on Thursday morning, as the telecommunications regulator began a separate assessment of reports that some customers were unable to make 000 calls.

The outage, the root-cause of which remains unknown, wreaked havoc across Australia, with more than 10 million people and thousands of businesses thought to have been impacted throughout the day.

Communication’s minister Michelle Rowland. Image Facebook

Hospitals and banks were among the businesses affected. Extensive delays were also experienced across Melbourne’s rail network, with around 500 train services cancelled following the “communication error”.

Optus fully restored the network at 6:30pm, though some customers began to see internet and phone services return from around 1:30pm, according to the company’s status page on the outage.

While Ms Rowland welcomed the return of Optus mobile and broadband services, she said it is “critical the government conducts a process to identify lessons to be learned”, including for other telecommunication providers.

“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.

Ms Rowland said the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts would be tasked with developing the terms of reference for the review.

The root cause of the outage remains unknown. Ms Rowland on Wednesday morning described it as a technical issue that she understood to be deep in the core of the network.

Optus chief executive Kelly Bayer Rosmarin told the ABC on Wednesday afternoon that a thorough root-cause analysis would be conducted, but that it was too early to know.

Optus has been criticised for its handling of the incident, with few updates provided until several hours after the outage. In the absence of steady formal updates, Ms Rowland on Wednesday called on Optus to “step up and communicate with people.”

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has also begun an assessment to investigate whether Optus is compliant with the rules requiring that emergency 000 calls are successfully carried.

“It is critical the industry and governments take stock following large-scale outages, given no network is immune,” Ms Rowland said on Thursday.

“The government hopes the review may also help major telecommunication providers to improve post-outage processes.”

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