Optus Is Partially Back — Here’s What We Know (And Don’t Know) About The Outage

Optus mobile services are currently down across Australia. And while for many it just means having to find alternate entertainment to watching TikTok videos or Gossip Girl during your morning commute to work, the lack of connection is super concerning for businesses and health services which rely on these networks to function.

The ABC has reported that the outage first began around 4am Wednesday countrywide. Currently, mobile phones on the network are unable to make or receive calls or use mobile internet and NBN services.

Following the outpouring of confused social media posts, Optus made a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“We’re aware of an issue impacting Optus mobile and NBN services and we are working to restore services as quickly as possible,” it read.

“We understand connectivity is important and apologise for any inconvenience caused.”

Communication Minister Michelle Rowland told 2GB radio this morning that the government is still waiting on answers from Optus.

“People are being affected by this, small businesses are being affected, but Australians do want to be updated. They do have an obligation from the operator to be updated and I would urge them just to do that as a matter of urgency,” she said, per news.com.au.

While it’s only been a few hours since the network went down, the impact of the outage has already been felt.

Melbourne’s public health medical provider Northern Health confirmed it was impacted by the outage.

“This includes phone lines into Northern Hospital Epping, Broadmeadows Hospital, Bundoora Centre, Craigieburn Centre, Kilmore District Hospital, and Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED),” it said, per The Guardian.

In Melbourne, train services briefly came to a halt until the backup system kicked in around 6am, leaving a bunch of early morning commuters stranded and confused.

Optus is the country’s second biggest mobile telephone company, second to Telstra. It has more than 10 million customers and 400,000 businesses using the service.

People have taken to social media to claim that the outage is another reason why becoming a cashless society could end in disaster.

Triple Zero calls are affected by the outage

Optus has confirmed via X, formerly known as Twitter, that calls to emergency services through Triple Zero will not work from Optus-connected landlines.

“We encourage any customers who need to contact emergency services to use a mobile line to call 000,” the statement said.

“Optus can confirm that Triple Zero calls will not work from an Optus landline (fixed line telephone). Mobile calls to Triple Zero will work if another carrier is available.” 

Meanwhile, Victoria’s health minister Mary-Anne Thomas has urged people not to use Optus-connected phones to call Triple Zero, while explaining that the Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority (ESTA) can receive calls but callers are claiming they’re unable to get through.

“ESTA is able to receive calls but not from the Optus network. So the challenge is for people seeking emergency care to make sure that they are calling Triple Zero from a non-Optus network,” she said, per The Guardian

She also touched on the way this outage could have an impact on the health outcomes of the general public.

“Obviously in healthcare, we’ve got a very warm day, we’re in the midst of an asthma season,” she said. 

“People need to know that they can access triple zero when they need to.” 

Some services back online, but cause remains unclear

In the early afternoon some Optus customers claimed on social media that their services are back online, with users being able to make calls and send texts in various areas of the country.

Optus is yet to clarify the cause of the national outage, with the company’s CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin saying to 3AW radio that they are “still investigating” why it happened.

“This is a very unusual occurrence and as soon as we understand exactly what happened we will be forthcoming with details,” stated Rosmarin.

More to come.