Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland says too early to say whether Optus customers should be compensated for outage

With Optus services slowly returning, many customers affected by the outage are asking whether they will be entitled to any kind of compensation.

The telecommunications blackout affected millions of people across the country — causing major delays for commuters and impacting health services as well as affecting both personal and business customers.

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According to Downdetector, reports of the outage started about 4am on Wednesday.

Issues with the Optus network were reported across the country in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide.

About 12.35pm, Optus customers reported they could once again connect to the internet and make calls.

“This has been a frustrating morning for Optus customers right across Australia and we appreciate that this frustration is not only in terms of inconvenience but in some cases, it is economic frustration as well,” Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said.

“In relation to customers who’ve been affected and what their recourse may be … at this time it is probably too early to be discussing or giving definitive views about compensation or other consumer rights.

“It’s 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.

“I want to assure all Australians that the top priority of this government is keeping Australians safe.”

Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland. Credit: MICK TSIKAS/AAP

Rowland said it was her understanding the outage was caused by “a fault deep in the core” of the Optus infrastructure.

“The core network basically encompasses everything from routing to electronics,” she said.

“So, it is a fault that is quite fundamental to the network.

“But my understanding, having just recently spoken again to the CEO, is that a number of problems have been identified and that Optus continues to work on this.

“I don’t have any information to confirm that this was caused by a cyberattack.”

Emergency call crisis

A major ongoing issue is the ability of customers to make emergency calls.

Optus earlier said that triple-0 could be called from a mobile, but not a landline, even during the outage.

However, it has now been reported that mobile phones weren’t connecting to triple-0.

Telecommunications carriers are required to ensure that emergency calls are successfully carried from each telecommunications provider to the Emergency Call Person, the Australian Community and Media Authority said in a statement.

“This includes calls to triple-0, 112, and to 106, the text-based National Relay Service for people who have a hearing or speech impairment.

“There are also requirements for telcos to make information available to the community on the status of its networks in instances where its networks have been seriously disrupted and there is a direct impact on the emergency call service.

“Once its network is restored, telcos are required to conduct welfare checks on people who have tried calling triple-0 during a large network outage if they were unable to connect to triple-0.

“The ACMA is monitoring this situation to ensure appropriate protections have been provided to the Australian community and that Optus is complying with its regulatory obligations.”

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