Drastic consequences of Optus network meltdown for Australia- Nov 2023
In the crucial hours after Optus’ network outage, half of Australia’s transport, health and payment systems were thrown into chaos, highlighting the vulnerability our core infrastructure. With the outage first reported on Tuesday 7th November at 4am, it was not until almost 5:30pm that Optus, the 2nd largest Australian telco company, said services had been restored. Almost 10m Australians, at 40% of the population, could not use their smartphones, broadband internet or landlines for much of the day. Businesses were unable to process electronic payments with wider ramifications for public services with hospitals unable to take phone calls and train networks in Melbourne failing to operate for half an hour.
The incident sparked criticism into the fragility of Australia’s core infrastructure and the robustness of our telecommunications network to handle outages at the scale of this meltdown. It comes only 14 months after Optus reported one of the country's biggest cyber breaches, but CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin said she did not believe the latest outage was the result of a cybersecurity breach. Industry analyst Paul Budde said the incident showed telecom companies should be required to accept customers from rival carriers on their networks in emergencies, a reform that the industry had long resisted. Prompting the conversation that such networks are vital infrastructure for the society and protecting national interest is paramount in the face of serious network failures.