The first 5G Optus tower is seen in the suburb of Dickson in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 31 January 2019 (issued 01 February 2019). EFE-EPA FILE/MICK TSIKAS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Australia to review technical failure that left 10 million people without phone, internet

Sydney, Australia, Nov 9 (EFE).- The Australian government on Thursday ordered a review of the outage at Optus, the country’s second largest telecommunications company, which left more than 38 percent of the population cut off for at least 9 hours the previous day.

“Connectivity is absolutely essential for Australian consumers and businesses, and the impacts of this outage were particularly concerning,” Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said in a statement.

“It is critical the Government conducts a process to identify lessons to be learned from yesterday’s outage,” she added.

Rowland said that she would ask her office to develop the terms of reference before announcing the next steps.

The minister also said that the Australian Communications and Media Authority, the government body that regulates the telecommunications sector, has independently started an investigation into whether Optus complied with the rules on emergency calls.

Wednesday’s blackout affected more than 10 million people, over 38.4 percent of Australia’s population, as well as some 400,000 businesses and government offices, which since early morning were unable to make or receive calls, send texts or access the internet.

They were also unable to carry out banking or payment operations.

As a result of this blackout, considered the largest in the history of Optus, many users were unable to call “000”, the emergency number for ambulances, police or fire services, which prompted the company to urge them to ask a family member or neighbor for help.

The rail network of Melbourne, Australia’s second most populated city, also had to suspend its services on Wednesday due to the telecommunications outage, which has also affected hospitals, ambulances and health services across the country.

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin, the CEO of Optus, which was hit by a cyberattack last year in which the data of 2 million customers was stolen, attributed the outage to a technical network fault but said that she couldn’t provide more details until “a full, thorough, root-cause analysis” had been carried out.

For the time being, the authorities are considering addressing the issue of consumer rights or potential compensation to users, including businesses, that suffered losses due to the outage. EFE