Millions of customers of Australia’s second largest telecommunications company, Optus, have been affected by an outage of mobile phone and internet services.
The outage also affected hundreds of thousands of businesses, as well as some government services, public health systems and public transportation systems.
Here’s what we know about the outage so far.
When did the Optus outage start?
Many Optus customers woke up to find their phones had lost connectivity this morning, but the outage was first reported as early as 4am AEDT.
Customers managed to express their frustrations on social media in other ways, before Optus confirmed the outage.
“Optus is aware of an issue that may impact some of our mobile and internet customers. We are currently working to identify the cause and apologize for any inconvenience,” the company said in a statement.
On social media platform .”
It appears Optus customers have not been contacted directly by Optus via email at the time of writing.
Who is affected?
More than 10 million Optus customers would be affected, as well as around 400,000 businesses and some government, health and transport systems.
Many businesses are unable to authorize their customers to make EFTPOS payments.
Customers of mobile operators using the Optus network are also impacted.
The Australian Department of Home Affairs says the outage impacted “Home Office and Australian Border Force phone lines, mobile and some web services.”
“The ministry is studying as a priority options to restore customer services. For the moment, the time of restoration is unknown,” he indicates.
All major hospitals in Melbourne were also affected, including Victoria’s Virtual Emergency Department.
Northern Health, which runs hospitals in the city’s north, reported that phone lines to its campuses were down and apologized for the inconvenience.
All train services in Melbourne were temporarily halted due to a communications outage on Wednesday morning, and Metro Trains said it could not rely on its backup system which uses the Optus mobile network.
Services have now resumed, but passengers have been warned there will be delays and should reconsider their travel options.
Can Optus customers still call triple-0?
Emergency calls should work on mobile phones – if you’re an Optus customer you should see ‘SOS’ on your phone where your signal strength usually is – however there are issues making calls triple-0 from Optus landlines.
In a statement, Optus said:
“We encourage all customers who need to contact emergency services to use a mobile line to call 000. Optus can confirm that triple zero (000) calls will not work from an Optus landline (telephone landline). Mobile calls to 000 will work if another carrier is available.”
Andrew Williams, CEO of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network, told ABC News that Optus had assured him that customers could call triple 0 on mobile phones because the call would be handled by one of the other phone networks.
He said Optus landlines will not be able to contact triple-0, however.
A carer told ABC Radio Melbourne they had difficulty calling an ambulance this morning.
“One of my patients had a cardiac arrest, I couldn’t call an ambulance,” he said. “I had to run down the street and borrow a phone from someone walking their dog.”
What is the cause of the breakdown?
It’s not yet clear.
Optus says it is working to identify the cause, but at this point federal authorities do not believe it was the result of a cyberattack.
Mr Williams said various things could cause outages.
“One of the major carriers had one a few years ago where an optical fiber was cut. Others were software glitches and software glitches that crashed the networks.”
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the government was seeking further information from Optus and when the company expected services to be restored.
“We urge Optus to use other mechanisms, including broadcasting, radio and television, to deliver these messages,” she told ABC Radio National.
Optus suffered a major cyberattack in September 2022, which led to more than 2 million customers having their personal identification documents compromised by hackers.