Optus admits 2700 Triple Zero calls failed during outage

Thursday, 25 January, 2024

Optus admits 2700 Triple Zero calls failed during outage

Eleven weeks on from the nationwide Optus outage, the telco company has advised the Australian Government that information it previously provided to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), the Senate and the public about the number of unsuccessful Triple Zero calls from mobiles during the outage was not accurate.

At a Senate inquiry held in mid-November, Optus’s then-CEO, Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, said that only 228 calls from mobiles to Triple Zero did not reach the Emergency Call Person (Telstra) on the day of the outage. At the time, she stated, “We have done welfare checks on all of those 228 calls. Thankfully, everybody is okay.”

But in a statement released late on Tuesday, Optus said a review of its processes had discovered a significant number of extra customers who could not call Triple Zero during the outage — with a total of at least 2697 calls understood to have failed.

“There is nothing more important to us than the safety and security of our customers, but regrettably on 8 November we did not meet the standards our customers and the community expects from us,” said interim CEO Michael Venter, who took over from Bayer Rosmarin after she resigned in the wake of the scandal.

“I offer my deepest apologies to all those customers who were unable to access Triple Zero services during the outage and did not receive a follow-up check from us,” Venter continued.

“We are writing to each customer individually to apologise for this and provide the opportunity to discuss their specific circumstances and whether there is anything we can do to assist them further.

“We know we let our customers down and our entire team is committed to addressing all learnings from the outage.”

While Optus has said that it will update the Senate record and has already provided more information to the ACMA, Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland has described the latest update as “a deeply concerning development given the critical importance of the Triple Zero service”.

Rowland said the new information will be considered by the ACMA as part of its independent investigation into Optus’s compliance with the Telecommunications (Emergency Call Provider) Determination 2019. She added that the Australian Government’s own post-incident review will focus on Optus’s activation of network wilting protocols, where signals from mobile towers are powered down in order for Triple Zero calls to be carried by other networks.

Image credit: iStock.com/RapidEye

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