Optus is experiencing one of the biggest outages in Australian history with millions of customers waking up without service.
Staff members in stores around Australia are fending off furious customers, as others form lengthy queues out the front of competitors in an effort to ditch the embattled telco.
Read all the updates as they happened here.
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As it stands, Optus is still working hard to restore network connections across Australia.
Many customers have already reported restored phone and internet access, but Optus has warned it could take ‘a few hours for all services to recover’.
Optus has not yet announced the cause of the outage, but has assured the public it will update everyone as information becomes available.
Speaking to the media on Wednesday morning, Federal Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland blamed the outages on a ‘deep fault’ in the network, without further detail.
Daily Mail Australia asked tech expert Trevor Long what was meant by a ‘deep fault’. He said the minister most likely meant to describe a ‘monumental problem with Optus’ network’.
‘We’ve never had an outage of a mobile network that also extended to that same telco’s broadband network,’ he said, describing the crash as ‘the biggest telecommunications outage in Australian history’.
A team of stylists were staging an elaborate photoshoot at the exclusive mansion home of Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin while the telco battled its network chaos.
In the midst of the nationwide crisis, a fleet of vehicles brought in luxury items like throws, shrubbery and furniture for the photography session at the mansion in Vaucluse in Sydney’s east.
Several young men and women could be seen staging the photoshoot – pre-arranged to showcase the work of the Rosmarin’s architect, ferrying props in and out of the balcony overlooking Sydney Harbour at the $15million 1920s dream home.
The mother-of-two’s husband, Rodney Rosmarin, 50, an executive with Commonwealth Bank, could also be seen directing the stylists, along with one of their daughters and the family’s pet dog.
Wicker furniture, elaborate floral features and rugs could be seen being moved into position for the photoshoot along with various bits of camera equipment.
Mr Rosmarin told Daily Mail Australia the photoshoot was organised for the architect who had been involved in the renovation of the period home.
‘They just hadn’t got round to photographing it yet and it was being done today,’ he told Daily Mail Australia. ‘It was just unfortunate timing.’
The Optus outage is now causing problems for rival network Telstra, who are experiencing higher demand.
We reported earlier that Optus customers were boycotting the telco and flooding Telstra and Vodaphone stores around the nation, desperate to switch providers.
Now, Telstra has revealed it is struggling to keep up with demand in some elements of the business.
Telstra’s online recharge services were replaced with a warning saying ‘we’re temporarily unable to recharge your pre-paid service due to planned maintenance’.
A Telstra spokesperson said it was a result of a ‘very high demand to recharge prepaid services right now’.
‘We will look into that’: CEO doesn’t give clear answer about possibility of compensation
The Optus CEO has dodged questions about compensating impacted customers – which includes small businesses and government services – for the outage.
Instead, Ms Bayer Rosmarin said she would ‘look into’ the possibility of compensation once services are up and running – which is what her focus has been so far.
‘No message is great for our message who are not connected, what matters the most is that we are pulling out all the stops to get customers reconnected.
‘I wish we had better news earlier… we have apologised.’
Optus CEO says ‘path to restoring the whole network’ is now clear
CEO Bayer Rosmarin has told 2GB Optus is now closer to restoring the network and is ‘bringing it up progressively as we speak’.
‘We will be working through getting it up and running everywhere… we’re going as fast as we possibly can,’ she told Deborah Knight.
‘The good news is that we have a path to restoring the whole network, and so we’re bringing it up progressively as we speak.’
But Ms Bayer Rosmarin conceded Optus still does not ‘have a line of sight into the root cause’.
South Australian Premier expresses ‘disappointment’ with Optus
Peter Malinauskas has held a press conference issuing a scathing takedown of Optus’ handling of the crisis so far.
He said: ‘They have let their customers down throughout the state, including the government.
‘Optus need to respond swiftly, communicate effectively with everybody about exactly what is going on here. There hasn’t been a great degree of communication coming out of Optus up until this point, which is disappointing, but not anymore disappointing than the service is not operating itself.
‘Telecommunications now is essential to the functioning of the Australian economy and it has a big impact on services across governments.’
He is most concerned about South Australians who may require mental health support, but can’t contact the mental health triage services, revealing the health system in South Australia has, like other states, been impacted.
‘Where there is people who are looking to contact the mental health triage service, that outbound call coming in is a challenge internally within SA Health.
‘People are still able to contact each other, that is clinician to clinician through basic services, but there have been some implications that we’ve seen throughout the morning in other internal communications, but that is being worked on and being addressed.’
Tensions boil over at Optus stores across the nation
Thousands of frustrated Optus customers have flocked to stores across the country, demanding answers from besieged staff members who have been forced to draft in extra security.
One shop on George Street in Sydney’s CBD had to call the police in twice after frustrations boiled over into fights between customers.
‘We’ve got extra security and staff in today,’ one Optus customer service agent told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The police were here for half an hour: a couple of paddy wagons and a couple of cruisers because there were so many people involved.’
The staff member said the store had two dozen people waiting before it opened at 9am.
‘Angry boomers were just flooding in – I couldn’t count them there were so many,’ he said.
‘Most folk who were mad about it were older people who came in early in the morning when they woke up.’
‘Most of them were mad about cruise tickets, which are on their phone. Because their ship’s docked here they can’t get back onboard without signal.’
The harassed staff members were in the dark about when the problem might be resolved.
‘We are absolutely blind in the stores so there’s not much we can tell people,’ he added.
Optus outage a shot in the arm for telco’s competitors
Optus was haemorrhaging customers to its direct competitors as people scrambled to get connected.
A staff member in a Vodafone next door to Optus on George Street in Sydney’s CBD said they had been inundated by the rival telco’s panicked customers desperate to get back online.
‘It was so chaotic in the morning. Everyone was just coming in here demanding temporary sims because they need to go to work, they need to have internet,’ she said.
Meanwhile, a security guard manning the Telstra store across the road said they were swamped in the morning.
‘It was the busiest I’ve seen it. People just couldn’t contact anyone and were begging for help,’ she said.
Long snaking queues were seen outside Vodafone and Telstra stores in downtown Melbourne.
Social media users were quick to spot the market opportunity for Optus’s competitors.
‘Telstra and Vodafone should be offering to cover cancellation fees and they’ll lock in half the country as new customers for years,’ one wrote.
Shadow Communications Minister urges government to step up amid ‘catastrophic incident’
David Coleman is calling on the government to do more to assist Optus and the telco’s customers.
Speaking to the media, Mr Coleman said: The Government has a lot of powers around cybersecurity and other issues and the government can’t simply say, ‘It’s not about us.’ The government needs to assist Optus, it needs to get on the front foot and it needs to help bring this to an end.
‘What is the government doing to help those people, to put in place alternative arrangements so that people can still access these really important services?
‘This is a catastrophic incident. There’s no precedent for an incident of this kind and Optus needs to do everything it can to get this resolved.’
Small businesses advised to ‘keep receipts’ amid Optus blackout for potential compensation
Ms Rowland has urged customers, particularly small businesses, to ‘keep receipts’ of the outage to help any potential cases for compensation down the line.
She said: ‘It is probably too early to be discussing or giving definitive views about compensation or other consumer rights.
‘But I do reiterate the statement of the TIA’s statement that it is 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.’
Business owners left in the dark as outage drags on
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland is speaking now
‘This is a deep fault, it has occurred deep within the network and has deep ramifications,’ she said.
‘For those customers, they are being impacted by the inability to make calls or use their services.
‘We now understand, this has been confirmed, calls to Triple Zero the emergency service cannot be made from Optus landline services.
‘My understanding is that it is a fault that is quite fundamental to the network… to the core.’
Ms Rowland said it is still too early to begin discussions about compensation or consumer rights.
She said the government is ready and willing to assist Optus and customers as best they can.
Optus CEO says there is no indication when services are expected to be restored
Optus has been working tirelessly to restore connections across Australia, but ‘so far have not had the results that we hoped for’.
CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin told ABC Radio: ‘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.’
But she said it is ‘highly unlikely’ this outage is the result of a hack.
‘Our systems are actually very stable, we provide great coverage to our customers, this is a very rare occurrence,’ she said.
‘And when I have more information about the root cause I will be the first to let our customers know.’
Optus is urging customers who need to contact Triple Zero to use their mobile – landline calls will not go through
Outage adds to woes for telco giant
This latest drama comes 14 months after Optus was hit by Australia’s largest-ever hacking scandal, where the private information of customers was compromised and in some cases stolen.
About 20 terabytes of data were improperly accessed including current and former customers’ names, dates of birth, phone numbers and email addresses.
A subset of the 9.8million affected customers also had their addresses and identity document numbers compromised.
Affected customers have since launched a class action law suit with firm Slater and Gordon.
Just six weeks ago, Optus revealed it would axe up to 150 call centre staff in Adelaide
On September 28, Optus told staff at a call centre in Adelaide that up to 150 jobs were being made redundant.
It is understood the final cuts were completed just two weeks ago, cutting the workforce at that call centre by a third.
In a cautiously worded statement, an Optus spokesperson said the company ‘continually evaluates our organisational structure to ensure it is the right one for meeting our customers’ needs’.
The statement added that the telecommunications giant had ‘recently undertaken a review and taken steps to simplify our business while still investing in those areas we know matter to our customers.
‘As part of this review, we are realigning teams which will impact some roles across our business.’
Optus said it would try to redeploy some staff whose roles were impacted, with some understood to have already been offered positions in other states.
Communications Minister to hold a press conference at 11am
Ms Rowland will address the public at 11am in response to the Optus outage, which is still ongoing.
Kelly Bayer Rosmarin – the woman who runs the telco – nowhere to be seen as network crashes
Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin appears missing in action as the Singapore-owned telco faces another massive crisis since she took the reins during the pandemic.
The telco issued a brief statement – published below – but five hours after the outage began there is still no update from the company’s CEO.
She took over Optus just as the Covid pandemic began but faced the biggest crisis the company had ever suffered when a massive hack a year ago stole and exposed personal details of up to 10 million customers.
The furious backlash saw analysts, customers and commentators demand her sacking at the time but she managed to survive the outrage.
At the time she was credited with coming forward and taking ownership of the problem personally with a series of video messages to customers.
What does Optus have to say about the ongoing problems?
‘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.
‘Our teams are working urgently to restore services. We will provide updates as soon as possible. We apologise sincerely to our customers.’
Graphic shows impacted areas
Michelle Rowland, Communications Minister, says it is ‘too early to speculate’ on issue
Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowlands said she was yet to receive an update from Optus but it appeared to be a ‘deep and significant’ network problem.
‘I can’t speculate at this time about whether or not this is something to do with some sort of cyber hack,’ she told 2GB Radio on Wednesday.
‘All I do know is that it is impacting on Australians, that customers do want to know what is going on.
‘I would urge Optus to get that information out through any channels that are possible and to do that as a priority.’
Hospitals, public transport networks, businesses impacted in outage
Melbourne’s Northern Health district said their hospitals’ phone lines had been impacted.
‘All phone lines into Northern Health campuses are currently being affected by an Optus outage,’ they said.
‘This includes phone lines into Northern Hospital Epping, Broadmeadows Hospital, Bundoora Centre, Craigieburn Centre, Kilmore District Hospital, and Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED). We apologise for any inconvenience.’
Sydney’s Westmead Private Hospital is experiencing the same issue.
‘Due to the national outage of Optus all our phone lines are unfortunately down, to contact the hospital, please email us on admissions,’ the hospital said.
One carer in Melbourne said they weren’t able to call an ambulance after their patient suffered a cardiac arrest.
‘I had to run out on the street and borrow a phone from someone walking his dog,’ they told ABC Radio Melbourne.
Another Optus user said his wife, who is a specialist doctor supervising kidney transplants, was also unable to make any calls.
Melbourne’s train network also shut down earlier on Wednesday, leaving many commuters stranded.
Australians are waking up to no service as Optus struggles to restore the network
The outage was first reported at 4am on Wednesday with Optus mobile users unable to make or receive calls and texts, with the internet network and home broadband also down.
Other carriers that use the Optus mobile network like Amaysim, Vaya, Aussie Broadband, Moose Mobile, Coles Mobile, Spintel, Southern Phone and Dodo Mobile are also down.
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Optus network crash AS IT HAPPENED: Optus shop workers call the police as ‘angry boomers’ flood stores and Aussies ditch the telco en masse