8 November 2023

UPDATED: Optus services gradually being restored after nationwide outage

| Lizzie Waymouth
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“Our engineers are currently investigating a network fault that is impacting Optus Mobile and Fixed customers. We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” Optus said. Photo: File.

UPDATED 3:30pm: Some Optus services have been restored after a nationwide outage left millions without network connection for hours.

“Some services across fixed and mobile are now gradually being restored,” Optus said on social media.

“This may take a few hours for all services to recover, and different services may restore at different sites over that time.”

After many services were disrupted due to the network issues, the ACT Government has also issued an update that some phone lines are beginning to return.

“ACT Government phones lines are gradually coming on line, and will continue to do so as Optus restores its services,” it said.

“We thank the community for their patience this afternoon as full services continue to be gradually restored.”

2 pm: Minister for Transport and City Services Chris Steel has issued an update on the ACT services that have been affected by the Optus outage.

“Due to the Optus national outage, ACT Government phone lines are affected for both incoming and outgoing calls,” Minister Steel said.

“The outage is affecting a range of government services including Access Canberra contact centres and health service phone lines.

“We’re investigating and waiting for further advice and updates from Optus. Updates will be provided through ACT Government social media channels.”

Mr Steel reassured Canberrans that emergency services Triple Zero calls remain functional, but these should only be used during an emergency. Triple Zero calls may not be available from landlines, but they are available for those calling from a mobile device, including the SOS network.

Mr Steel said the outage has affected “most Canberra Health Services phone lines”.

“Phone services at North Canberra Hospital are fully operational as this is a Telstra site, except for pathology.

“All other Canberra Health Services facilities are affected. Affected external phone lines include the Canberra Hospital switchboard, maternity assessment unit and Access Mental Health services.

“I’m advised that no health services have been cancelled and that business continuity plans have been enacted and are working well.”

“MyDHR is currently operating as normal. ACT Health sites including Health Protection Services located in Holder are currently offline. This is impacting ACT immunisation services and management of monitored medications. Air pollution monitoring services are also currently offline.”

Mr Steel said Acess Canberra and Transport Canberra phone lines are currently unable to receive calls from the public.

He said bus services continue to run as scheduled across Canberra, but NXTBUS, which provides real-time passenger information, is currently down.

The outage has also affected waste management services in the ACT.

“The Optus outage is currently impacting waste transfer stations at the Mitchell and Mugga Lane resource management centres,” Mr Steel said.

“Residents are asked to delay visiting a resource management center just to dispose of waste until the Optus outage is resolved.”

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Mr Steel said there have been some impacts to the ACT traffic network.

“The ACT’s Traffic Management Centre phone lines are currently down and a small number of cameras are also down at intersections.

“This is not having any significant impact on traffic flow at this point in time.”

In relation to Libraries ACT, customer phone lines are currently down.

In relation to the Education Directorate and ACT schools, all ACT public schools are currently affected.

“Members of the public are unable to contact our schools by phone,” Mr Steel said.

“If you need to get in contact with your child’s school urgently, please contact them via email or of course attend the school if necessary relation to the services delivered by the community services directorate.”

The outage is affecting all of the Community Services Directorate phone lines. The directorate advises that no scheduled appointments have been cancelled and people should attend their appointments.

The Housing ACT shopfront, Child and Family Centres and Child Development Service remain open and email addresses to contact other areas of the directorate are available on the website.

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Minister Steel said the ACT Government is awaiting an update from Optus about how long this outage will remain for.

“In the meantime, ACT Government agencies are working to put in place business continuity plans to make sure that services can operate as normally as possible.”

He said it was “incredibly disappointing that this has occurred” and the ACT Government has been liaising with Optus and the Commonwealth Government for further information.

“We’ll of course keep the Canberra community updated as much as we can.”

11:30 am: Optus services have been down across the country since early this morning, affecting millions of customers.

The outage has affected essential services and businesses across the ACT that rely on Australia’s second-largest telecommunications provider.

According to DownDetector, reports of outages began at around 4 am and spiked at about 5:45 am.

“We’re aware of an issue impacting Optus mobile and NBN services and are working to restore services as quickly as possible. We understand connectivity is important and apologise for any inconvenience caused,” Optus said.

The outage has also affected other companies using the Optus network, including Amaysim, Aussie Broadband, CatchConnect, Coles Mobile and Dodo.

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Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowlands said she had not received an update from Optus, but the network issue appeared “deep and significant”.

She told ABC Radio Sydney this morning she would be “reluctant to speculate” whether the outages are due to a cyber attack.

At a press conference later in the morning, Ms Rowlands said it is vital Optus is as transparent as possible to its customers.

“From the outset, I reiterate that it is vital for Optus to be transparent and timely,” she said.

“In the update that it is giving to customers about the nature of the fault, its impacts and its possible rectification, it is essential that we have that timeliness and the transparency [in] what is a vital part of our infrastructure and services in this country. That is, access to telecommunications, mobile broadband, as well as fixed-line services.

“It has wide ramifications across mobile, fixed and broadband services for Optus customers. It also means that for those customers, they are being impacted by the inability to make calls or use their services.

“They have assured us that they are working as quickly as possible, but I reiterate that it is important for Optus to keep customers updated, and in a timely way, because this is precisely the questions that customers are asking.

“My understanding is there are a number of government agencies that are being monitored for the impact on them. They include state and federal agencies.”

Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin told ABC Radio Sydney the company has tried “a number of paths of restoration to bring its mobile and internet services back online”, but so far “we have not had the results that we hoped for “. She said it was “highly unlikely” the outage was caused by a cyber attack, as this is a “very, very rare occurrence”.

“Our team is still pursuing every possible avenue. We had a number of hypotheses and each one so far that we’ve tested and put in place new actions for has not resolved the fundamental issue.”

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As a result of the outage, ACT Government services cannot send or receive calls, but the ESA has confirmed that Triple-Zero services are still functional.

“Due to the Optus national outage, ACT Government phone lines are affected for incoming and outgoing calls. The outage is affecting a range of our services, including Access Canberra Contact Centres and health service phone lines,” the ACT Government said.

“ACT Emergency Services Triple-Zero (000) services remain functional, but please call only in an emergency. We are actively addressing the issue and awaiting updates from Optus,” the ESA said.

“Customers with Optus mobile phones can still make emergency calls in coverage areas from other mobile providers. Emergency calls are connected through any available carrier (Optus, Telstra, Vodaphone).

“For non-emergency enquiries for the ACT Emergency Services Agency, ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Fire & Rescue, ACT State Emergency Services, and ACT Rural Fire Service, please email esahaveyoursay@act.gov.au.”

The network issues have also affected ACT public schools.

“Due to the Optus national outage, ACT Government phone lines are affected for both incoming and outgoing calls,” an email sent to all parents and carers at Melrose High School in Pearce read.

“This has also impacted our school phones and SMS communications … ACT Government is investigating and waiting for further advice and updates from Optus. We will provide further updates when available.”

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Small businesses that refuse to deal with cash paying customers might now stop and rethink their short sighted and discriminatory policy. No sympathy for you Red Brick cafe.

HiddenDragon6:46 pm 08 Nov 23

Instead of streamlining ID requirements, and restructuring customer accounts so that at least some routine issues can be handled without access to customers’ personal details, and thus without the need for careful ID checks, Optus seems to have responded to last year’s massive data hack by increasing the ID which is demanded for all interactions.

This does not augur at all well for a positive longer term response to today’s disaster – unless Optus’ hand is forced by the federal government.

Stanleyhistory3:59 pm 08 Nov 23

Can we please stop misusing ‘impact’ as a verb! It isn’t. The correct word is ‘affect’.

When you parachute doesn’t open, its an impact

Actually FP, you have used impact as a noun in your sentence.
Nevertheless, Stanleyhistory is incorrect – impact can be a verb, and is a synonym of affect … e.g. if your parachute doesn’t open, it will impact you.

Capital Retro3:00 pm 09 Nov 23

A rare truism from JustSaying.

@Capital Retro
Thank you, CR … and in the unlikely event you post one (a truism) I’ll be sure to acknowledge it.

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