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March, 2024

Government weighs up next steps after receiving Optus post-incident review report

The Federal Government said it’s now considering recommendations made in the final report from its Optus Post-Incident Review, led by former Deputy Chair of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), Richard Bean.

The review examined emergency call arrangements, customer communications, and complaint handling during and after last year’s nationwide Optus outage. The report makes recommendations aimed at improving the telco industry’s response to such outages, with a focus on the Triple Zero service. The review was granted an extension in February 2024 after additional information was received from Optus regarding their network wilting arrangements. The technical cause of the outage was not within the scope of the review, but the government understands that the disruption to some Triple Zero calls was predominantly caused by a failure of Optus 3G towers to wilt.

“Last year’s Optus outage was incredibly disruptive for millions of Australians, and had serious impacts on public safety, access to essential services, and the ability for businesses to trade,” said Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP. “The Government thanks Mr Richard Bean for the comprehensive Post-Incident Review and its final report. We want industry and government to learn the lessons from this event, and take steps to prevent this type of disruption occurring again.”

The government will consider the recommendations of the review, and will publicly release both the final report and the government’s response in due course. “We will consider the recommendations from the Review, and publicly release both the final report and the Government’s response in due course,” confirmed Minister Rowland.

Optus Mobile has already been fined $1.5 million by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for significant breaches of public safety rules pertaining to the network outage.

The penalty came after the Privacy Commissioner commenced investigations and a Senate Inquiry explored the telco’s failure to provide customers with emergency service access during the 14-hour network outage across the country last November.

It has been revealed nearly 2700 customers tried to access emergency services via 000 while the November 14-hour network outage occurred, a number 10 times higher than first stated by former Optus CEO, Kelly Rosmarin, in her initial appearance in the Senate Inquiry. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), requires telcos to check on people who have tried to call emergency services during network outages but fail to get through. While Optus said it had conducted welfare checks on the initial 228 callers identified as trying to access 000, it has since admitted it did not check on the other 2450.