Millions of customers were affected by Telstra’s five-hour outage. Picture: AAP
Millions of customers were affected by Telstra’s five-hour outage. Picture: AAP

Telstra’s woeful outage excuse

TELSTRA'S excuse for its latest widespread network outage, the second in 20 days, is unlikely to appease its angry and frustrated customers.

The telecommuncations giant blamed the problem, which shutdown large parts of its network across Australia for five hours yesterday, on a "software fault".

The fault caused a "disruption" to 4G voice and data services across the major cities and in regional areas, causing customers to move across to its 3G network which was flooded as demand exceeded capacity.

"We have identified that the initial cause of the disruption was a software fault which triggered multiple elements across the network to fail," Telstra said in the statement.

"The network is designed to switch onto standby hardware which it did. Following the failover however, a further fault caused an interruption which impacted 4G connections. There is redundancy built into these systems but this did not operate as intended.

"We are still investigating the root cause of the software fault. We are working closely with our technology vendors on the specific element of software which triggered the issue.

"Our teams have worked around the clock to restore services and to investigate why the redundancy in our network did not prevent customer impact, for which we are deeply sorry.

That statement came after consumer advocates called on Telstra to provide refunds to millions of mobile customers as a "goodwill gesture" after the company suffered its third nationwide outage in a month yesterday, leaving Australians without access to phone calls, text messages, or internet services for up to five hours.

But Telstra repeatedly ruled out mass compensation for its customers, saying it would only be willing to "work with them on a case-by-case basis".

The company's latest major outage struck its mobile phone network before 10am yesterday, cutting off some Telstra mobile phone users from all services, while others were forced back on to the 3G network and unable to access the internet.

The outage prompted New South Wales Police to issue warnings that anyone in an emergency should seek out a landline phone as the network problems could affect "people trying to call triple-0".

Emergency calls were instead forced to divert to working mobile phone networks for a connection.

Phone calls and data services weren't restored for all customers until 3pm - five hours after the outage - and Telstra networks group managing director Mike Wright said the company had yet to identify the exact cause of the problem.

"We're still trying to work out whether it was a piece of hardware that failed or a piece of software," he said. "We know the impact and what we did to restore it."

It's understood the fault diverted mobile phone traffic from Telstra's 4G network to the older 3G network, which caused congestion and rejected some phones from either network.

The outage came less than three weeks after a widespread technical issue brought down landline connections in five states, affecting some triple-0 calls for 10 hours.

Another Telstra mobile network outage on May 1 also disconnected mobile phones from the 4G network nationwide until it was fixed two hours later.

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