Optus outage affects millions of Australians, phone and internet connections still down

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Millions of Australians were left without a phone or internet connection on Wednesday after the country’s second-largest telecommunications provider experienced an unexplained nationwide outage.

The outage crippled payment systems and online operations and led to morning peak-hour chaos as train networks and ride share services were down briefly in some cities.

Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin ruled out a cyber attack but in an interview on ABC Radio did not give a reason for the outage, already in its sixth hour, or say how long it would take for services to be restored.

 “It is highly unlikely (that the problem started within software in Optus networks), our systems are actually very stable … This is a very, very rare occurrence,” she said.

“We are working really hard to get it up and running as soon as we possibly can.”

Optus is the Australian unit of telecoms firm Singapore Telecommunications and has more than 10 million customers, about 40% of Australia’s population.

 “Without my phone I pretty much can’t do anything. I’m looking for a bank, and when you can’t go onto your phone and Google pretty much you are lost,” said Angela Ican outside the Optus store in Sydney’s central business district

Construction worker Kyle, who did not give his full name, said he wanted answers from Optus.

“I was running late for work and couldn’t let my boss know. When I got on site I couldn’t find my boss – it’s been a big day,” he told Reuters.

An Optus spokesperson told Reuters in a statement that the company “apologizes sincerely to customers.”

Limited information

Commonwealth Bank, the country’s biggest lender, said in a statement that some customers may encounter difficulties with some of its services.

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Federal Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said she had “limited” information about the outage.

“What we do know is that this is a deep fault. It has occurred deep within the network. It has wide ramifications across mobile, fixed, and broadband services for Optus customers,” Rowland told reporters.

Melbourne’s train networks were forced to shut down for about 30 minutes due to the outage, resulting in delays during the morning rush, media reported.

“Major delays to all lines continue with select alterations and cancellations,” the city’s metro rail service said on X.

Hospitals and emergency services across the country were also hit by the outage.

Ramsay Health Care, which owns 70 hospitals and clinics in Australia, its phone services were impacted.

“At this time, we are unaware how long this outage will continue. If you need to contact your local Ramsay hospital, please direct inquiries via the contact form on the local hospital’s website,” it said on its Facebook page.

Emergency triple zero (“000”) calls were not working from Optus landlines.

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