SINGAPORE: Singtel made an announcement on Monday (20 Nov) regarding significant changes within its Australian subsidiary Optus.
Following a nationwide outage that affected approximately 10 million Australians on 8 November, resulting in a 16-hour disruption to phone and Internet services, Ms Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the CEO of Optus, has resigned.
In the interim, Optus’ chief financial officer, Michael Venter, will assume the responsibilities of the CEO role as the company initiates a global search for a suitable replacement, as confirmed by Singtel.
Moreover, a newly established position, chief operating officer, has been filled by former StarHub CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos.
Previously serving as Optus’ business managing director, Mr Kaliaropoulos is set to rejoin the company on Nov 22 and will report directly to Mr Venter.
He was also CEO of StarHub from July 2018 before retiring and stepping down from the position in October 2020.
Singtel Group CEO Yuen Kuan Moon emphasized in a statement, “We recognise the need for Optus to regain customer trust and confidence as the team works through the impact and consequences of the recent outage and continues to improve.”
“Optus is an integral part of our group’s business. We view the events in recent weeks very seriously. We fully recognise the importance of Optus’ role in providing connectivity services to the community and the importance of network resiliency and security. ”
“That is a top priority in all markets where our companies operate in,” he added.
Mr Yuen also expressed his full confidence in the Optus team, stating that they are poised to go above and beyond in their efforts to serve customers and restore their trust and confidence.
Regarding the departure of the CEO, he remarked, “Optus appointed Kelly at the beginning of the pandemic, and we acknowledge her leadership, commitment and hard work throughout what has been a challenging period and thank her for her dedication and service to Optus.”
Optus CEO under fire for lacklustre response and communication during the service outage
In the Australian Senate inquiry hearing held last Friday (17 Nov), Ms Bayer Rosmarin faced intense questioning but sidestepped direct inquiries about her potential resignation, as reported by Australian media.
However, in her statement released on Monday, she expressed, “Having now had time for some personal reflection, I have come to the decision that my resignation is in the best interest of Optus moving forward.”
Optus and its CEO received criticism for their slow response and inadequate communication concerning the extensive outage.
During the Senate hearing, Ms Bayer Rosmarin mentioned that the telco deliberately chose not to directly contact customers during the outage, focusing instead on social media posts and live media interviews.
Her comment during an interview with Nine News on the day of the outage, seemingly downplaying the impact on thousands of small business owners, drew criticism.
She remarked, “I’m disappointed that a barber couldn’t do haircuts today. That seems like one of the few things you can do without connectivity.”
Additionally, in an interview with radio station 2GB on the same day, the then-CEO suggested that “customers could’ve checked the Optus website” for further information about the situation.
Insiders claim Optus service disruption linked to Singtel-operated network, Australian media reports
On 8 November, 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 13 November, a spokesperson confirmed that the outage resulted from changes to routing information following a routine software upgrade at 4:05 am on 8 November.
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.
The November 8 outage occurred just over a year after Optus experienced a significant cyber attack that compromised the personal data of over two million customers, including passport details.
Singtel stood by the Optus CEO after the cyber attack incident, but the recent outage resulted in public backlash in Australia, a stock sell-off in Singapore, and ultimately undermined Ms Bayer Rosmarin’s position, according to Bloomberg’s report.