A Senate Committee has learnt more about last week’s Optus outage, including details of over 200 triple zero calls that were impacted.
Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin and Managing Director of Networks Lambo Kanagaratnam faced two hours of questioning in Canberra this morning.
The Optus outage
Over 10 million Australians were without data or internet when the Optus network was suddenly shut down last Wednesday morning.
Services were restored throughout the late afternoon and evening.
The outage resulted in lost income for businesses across a range of industries and left some customers unable to call triple zero.
The outage originated from a routine software upgrade.
Kanagaratnam said the “scale of the outage was obviously something we didn’t anticipate”, and that their defence mechanisms didn’t work “as they should have”.
Triple zero calls
Optus said it wasn’t aware in the initial stage of the outage that some customers couldn’t call triple zero.
Rosmarin told the committee that 228 emergency calls were unable to get through during the outage. Optus has since conducted welfare checks on those customers, and confirmed they are all okay.
Optus is still unsure why calls couldn’t get through to triple zero, with the matter under investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
Rosmarin said 8,500 individuals and small businesses have requested compensation from Optus following the outage.
In total, they have requested $430,000 in compensation. About $36,000 has been promised, though Rosmarin couldn’t confirm if that’s been delivered as cash, or through credits or other services.
Will an outage happen again?
Kanagaratnam said his team has finalised new technological updates to ensure a similar outage won’t occur in future.
Rosmarin also discussed the human impact of the outage on Optus staff, who faced a similar crisis following a cyberattack last year.
“The team has worked incredibly hard to regain the trust of consumers… There is nobody in the company who would’ve wanted something like this to happen again.”
The committee criticised Optus’ communications, saying it didn’t adequately alert customers of the issue, or provide sufficient detail.
Optus largely shared information about the outage through updates on social media. Rosmarin also spoke to some journalists on the day of the outage.
Rosmarin said her team did “the best they could”, but that she had also taken feedback about the delivery and tone of Optus’ messages.
Kelly Bayer Rosmarin
Rosmarin, who has been Optus CEO since 2020, faced questions about her future during the committee.
It came after the Australian Financial Review reported this morning that Rosmarin was considering resigning as soon as next week.
Rosmarin dismissed these reports, saying it “has not been a time to be thinking about myself”.