Nationwide Optus outage: millions without phone and internet

Optus outage Nov 2023

Millions of Australians were without phone and internet access today due to a nationwide Optus outage attributed to a “technical network issue”. Individuals, businesses, and critical infrastructure including hospitals were all affected. Compensation offered by the telco has been labelled “an insult” by customers.

12 hours after the outage began, Optus updated customers via its website that “internet and phone services are continuing to be restored”. Those affected are instructed to restart devices or toggle Airplane mode on and off in an attempt to regain service. Concerningly, some customers still report not being able to contact 000 from mobile phones. In response, Optus suggested “finding a family member or neighbour with an alternative device” in an emergency.

Unfortunately, details as to what caused the outage remain unclear. Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin told ABC News that an investigation would shed light on the situation.

“Until we’ve done a full, thorough, root-cause analysis, we really can’t provide more information,” Bayer Rosmarin said. “What I can say is that it was a technical network issue, and that our teams have worked very, very hard to get services restored as quickly as they possibly could.”

The original story follows.

Optus outage as it happened

“We are aware of an outage impacting our customers,” a statement shared on Optus’ social media channels reads. “Our teams are working to restore services as soon as possible. We will provide updates as soon as possible. We apologise sincerely to our customers.”

As reported by The Guardian Australia, phone lines for hospitals across the country are down, with the outage also impacting public transport networks. Multiple other carriers that use Optus networks, like Amaysim, Dodo, and Aussie Broadband’s mobile service have also been interrupted.

Details about the Optus outage are limited, with Communications Minister Michelle Rowland describing the issue as a “fault deep in the core”. In an interview on ABC Radio National, she said the government is working to find out what happened, which is not believed to be hacking-related, and when services are expected to resume.

“[The severity of the outage] would indicate, potentially, a deep network problem, and one that is significant,” Rowland said. “There’s limited information at this stage, but Optus is trying to get to the bottom of it.”

A contrite Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin spoke on ABC Radio Sydney via WhatsApp, although there’s still no clear answer as to what happened or an expected recovery time.

“We’re really really sorry that this outage has occurred and we’re working to restore services for our customers as a priority,” Bayer Rosmarin said.

“The team has tried a number of paths of restoration, so far we have not had the results that we have hoped for. And we’re pursuing every avenue to get everybody back online as soon as possible.”

Further Optus outage details, who’s impacted

Customers started reporting interrupted services after 3 AM according to Downdetector, a site where people update and view real-time outage data. Thousands of reports spiked between 5-6 AM as Australians woke to the news. Retailers that use the Optus network to deliver mobile phone or internet services include the following:

  • Amaysim
  • Aussie Broadband
  • Catch Connect
  • Coles Mobile
  • Dodo
  • Moose Mobile
  • Spintel
  • Southern Phone

It’s also been reported that emergency calls made to 000 from Optus landline phones aren’t working. However, 000 calls made from a mobile should still connect when within range of another network.

Compensation is the word on everyone’s lips, as the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) offers help to Optus customers.

“We can help you with refunds for the time you have been unable to use your service, compensation claims and disputes about your contract,” a statement on the TIO website said.

At a press conference addressing the situation, Minister Rowland played down discussions of refunds, at least until the outage is resolved.

“It is probably too early to be discussing or giving definitive views about compensation or other consumer rights,” Minister Rowland said. “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.”

On a slightly lighter note, one person discovered the outage because her cat woke her up after an internet-connected smart feeder failed to work.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more. It adds further stress to Optus customers who fell victim to a significant data breach last year.

Read more telco news on GadgetGuy

Live updates

Optus live updates
Event status
Chris Button
12:43 PM

Some Optus customers regain connection

Various social media users have reported that their Optus internet and phone plans are working again. It doesn't yet seem widespread, so we'll wait for official confirmation regarding the telco's network status.

Chris Button
12:14 PM

Australians look to jump ship from Optus

Between today's significant outage and the fallout following last year's data breach, it appears many are keen to connect with another telco.

Other than the news about the Optus outage, our next most popular article at the moment is our guide to the cheapest SIM plans. It seems people are fed up with recent telco woes and are looking for alternatives.

Chris Button
12:03 PM

Where can you find more information?

Optus is directing customers to its website and the MyOptus app for live updates. However, its outage update page contains very little information other than an acknowledgement of the situation and an apology.

Chris Button
11:46 AM

Optus urged to "step up" with customer communication

Minister Rowland also stressed the importance of Optus communicating with its customers. Which, considering the nature of the outage, is difficult when many Australians rely on the network for phone and internet coverage. Per The Guardian Australia:

"We rely so much on our communications devices, including for consuming media," Minister Rowland said during the press conference. "And when that isn’t available, that is noticeable."

"I think it is important for Optus to continue to step up. Customers expect this. Customers are clearly frustrated about it and Optus should respond to that accordingly."

Chris Button
11:42 AM

Communications Minister addresses media, still no clear explanation

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland held a press conference a short while ago to address the Optus outage. There's still no word on when we can expect services to resume.

As for what caused the outage, details remain vague beyond mention of a "fault deep in the core".

"The core network basically encompasses everything from routing to electronics," Minister Rowland said. "So it is a fault that is quite fundamental to the network."

Chris Button
11:29 AM

Refunds and compensation discussions heat up

While Optus is yet to confirm any compensation for its customers, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman is on the front foot, offering support for anyone impacted by the outage.

"If you have contacted Optus and you are unhappy with the response, you can make a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

If you have not contacted Optus, or you have been unable to contact them, we can forward your complaint to Optus on your behalf.

We can help you with refunds for the time you have been unable to use your service, compensation claims and disputes about your contract."