Optus, the second-largest telecommunications provider in Australia, has confirmed that millions of customers faced widespread disruptions in its services on Wednesday.
Optus, a subsidiary of Singapore Telecommunications, serves more than 10 million customers, equivalent to approximately 40 percent of Australia’s population.
The outage, which lasted for several hours, left many without access to phone or internet services, affecting critical systems and causing chaos during the morning peak hours in some cities, Reuters news report said.
Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin assured the public that the outage was not a result of a cyberattack. However, she did not provide a specific reason for the disruption or offer an estimated time for service restoration.
“It is highly unlikely (that the problem started within software in Optus networks), our systems are actually very stable… This is a very, very rare occurrence,” she stated, emphasizing that the company was making significant efforts to restore services as quickly as possible.
The outage had far-reaching consequences for individuals and businesses. Angela Ican, who found herself outside an Optus store in Sydney’s central business district, explained, “Without my phone I pretty much can’t do anything. I’m looking for a bank, and when you can’t go onto your phone and Google, pretty much you are lost.”
Construction worker Kyle expressed his frustration, saying, “I was running late for work and couldn’t let my boss know. When I got on-site, I couldn’t find my boss – it’s been a big day.”
Optus apologized to its customers for the inconvenience caused by the outage.
Additionally, the country’s largest lender, Commonwealth Bank, acknowledged that some of its services might encounter difficulties as a result of the disruption.
Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland acknowledged that the outage had wide-ranging impacts on Optus customers, affecting mobile, fixed, and broadband services, describing it as a “deep fault” within the network.
The consequences of the outage rippled through various sectors, impacting transportation and healthcare. Melbourne’s train networks briefly shut down, causing delays during the morning rush. Hospitals, including Ramsay Health Care, which operates 70 hospitals and clinics across Australia, reported disruptions in their phone services.
Emergency services were also affected, as “000” calls (Australia’s equivalent to 911) could not be made from Optus landlines. Optus urged customers in need of emergency assistance to use mobile phones to contact emergency services.
The outage underscores the critical role that telecommunications and internet services play in the daily lives of Australians and businesses. As service providers work to restore normalcy, the incident serves as a reminder of the need for robust contingency plans and the importance of maintaining reliable infrastructure in an increasingly connected world.