Last Wednesday (8 Nov), Australians experienced a major disruption as Singtel-owned Optus, the nation’s second-largest telecommunications provider, grappled with a widespread outage.
This unforeseen halt in mobile phone and internet services left millions of consumers and businesses disconnected, triggering a chain of disruptions across the country.
An Australian media outlet recently revealed that the extensive 16-hour disruption of Optus services was purportedly linked to a network operated by Singapore Telecom (Singtel), which coincidentally happens to be the same network used by Optus for its service provision.
According to Channelnews, citing an insider claiming to be a senior executive from a company closely associated with Optus, the network was under the management of Singtel at the time of the crash.
The source went on to suggest that senior Optus network executives, including CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, ” took all the heat over the crash to protect her Singapore master”.
The Australian media outlet emphasized that Optus has refrained from providing a clear answer despite repeated inquiries regarding who was managing the network during the disruption—whether it was Optus itself or Singtel.
ChannelNews comprehends that Singtel Optus ConnectPlus ILC, a point-to-point international leased line service for data communication traffic, is overseen by Singtel but distributed under Optus management.
“Routing information changes” cited by Optus as cause for 16-hour network outage
On Monday (13 Nov), a spokesperson confirmed that the outage resulted from changes to routing information following a routine software upgrade at 4:05 am on Wednesday.
These modifications permeated through various layers of the network, surpassing safety thresholds on crucial routers, prompting their disconnection from the Optus IP Core network as a protective measure.
“These routing information changes propagated through multiple layers in our network and exceeded preset safety levels on key routers which could not handle these. ”
“This resulted in those routers disconnecting from the Optus IP Core network to protect themselves,” a spokesperson said.
The scale of the reconnection project was extensive, necessitating Optus to dispatch personnel across multiple sites in Australia to physically reconnect or reboot routers in certain cases.
Due to the magnitude of the reconnection task, the investigation into the cause of the outage took longer than anticipated.
The disruption, which commenced affecting customers including hospitals and government organizations in the early hours of Wednesday, persisted until 6 pm local time.
Optus clarified that there is presently no indication that the internet blackout resulted from a cyberattack or compromised data.
“There is no indication at this stage that the network outage is related to a cyberattack or that customer data has been compromised. To ensure the safety of our customers against scams and fraud, we will not be sending communications about this outage with links.”
“Given the widespread impact of the outage, our investigations into the issue took longer than we would have liked as we examined several different paths to restoration,” the company further stated.
The company asserted that it has implemented network modifications aimed at averting future disruptions. Additionally, reports indicate that the operator is in the process of assembling a specialized team dedicated to thoroughly assessing the problem.
Back in 2022 Optus management announced that they would take operational control of its business-to-business arm following a decentralisation process by its parent company Singtel.
The Singapore-headquartered Singtel handed operational management of Optus Enterprise over to the Australia-based Optus team in a move that will support the “localised need of [its] business customer[s]”.
Starting from July 1, 2022, Singtel asserted that the transition granted Optus greater operational independence and direct responsibility.
However, details regarding the management of the core communication network utilized by Optus were not disclosed.
At the time, Singtel Group CEO Mr Yuen Kuan Moon said, “Optus has been part of the Singtel stable for two decades and a leading player in the Australian consumer market. Given the hyper digitalisation that enterprises are currently experiencing, this is also timely as Optus can focus on advancing its growth as a B2B player.”
Last Thursday (9 Nov), Singtel announced its first half net profit rose 83% to S$2.14 billion, boosted by an exceptional gain from regional associate Telkomsel’s integration of IndiHome, the largest fixed broadband provider in Indonesia.
The latest announcement noed that Optus’ operating revenue was up 1%, led mainly by its mobile business, with mobile service revenue rose 3% from customer growth, particularly in prepaid, higher postpaid ARPU and increased Optus Sport subscriptions for the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Mobile ARPU fell slightly due mainly to a greater proportion of lower ARPU prepaid customers, reflecting demand for lower price plans. The total mobile customer base grew 167,000 in the first half, with 108,000 new prepaid mobile customers driven by a strong performance by amaysim. 5G device penetration also grew and reached more than 4.2 million.