- By Tiffany Turnbull
- BBC News, Sydney
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It is estimated that this disconnection will impact almost half of the country’s population.
A multitude of Australians have been left without mobile phones and internet after a network failure at telecommunications giant Optus.
Optus is the country’s second-largest provider, with over 10 million individual customers and hundreds of thousands more businesses.
The service interruption caused transportation delays, severed hospital telephone lines, and disrupted payment systems.
The cause is uncertain, but Optus states there is no evidence of a cyber attack.
The company experienced the largest data breach in Australian history due to a cyberattack last year.
The disruption left individuals throughout the country unable to contact emergency services and vital helpline numbers, while train services and some hospital communications in the state of Victoria were also temporarily disrupted.
Wednesday’s disruption was reported around 04:00 (17:00 GMT). In an update seven hours later, CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin stated that her team had not yet identified the cause.
“Teams are working from multiple angles and we will not stop until service is restored for our customers,” he said in a call to local radio via WhatsApp.
The company later mentioned it had started restoring some of its services.
The disruption also affected other providers that utilize the Optus network, including Amesim, Australian Broadband, Moose Mobile, and others.
An Optus customer informed the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that the incident left her unable to receive important updates about her father’s cancer treatment.
“I’m just waiting for the results and I can’t even receive them,” said Danielle Hopwood.
Another customer, Annie, told local radio that she became aware of the disruption when her cat’s automatic Wi-Fi-enabled feeder stopped working.
Australia’s communications minister, Michelle Rowland, expressed concern for many Australians and urged the company to be transparent and provide “timely” updates to customers.
“My understanding is that this is a significant error at its core… so this is a mistake that is quite fundamental to the network,” he said.
Ms. Bayer Rosmarin apologized for the disruption and stated the company would provide updates throughout the day.