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Move for Senate inquiry into telco services after Telstra outage

Move for Senate inquiry into telco services after Telstra outage Pixabay Featured

Telstra's operations and those of other telcos as well will come under scrutiny if a move by a Centre Alliance senator for an inquiry into telecommunications security and stability gets up.

Senator Stirling Griff of the Centre Alliance, formerly the Xenophon Network, has indicated that he will seek an inquiry following Telstra's second network failure in a month.

He said in a statement that his concerns over the security of Australia's telecommunications — including the operation of mobile phone towers during natural disasters and prolonged blackouts — stretched back a long time.

Telstra's mobile network went down at 10am on Monday, and services began to be restored about seven hours later. But till today, the company has not outlined the sequence of events that led to the collapse of the network, apart from stating on Wednesday that it was triggered by a software fault.

The outage was the third in May, with the triple-zero service going down on 4 May after a cable between Bowral and Orange in NSW was cut due to lightning. On 1 May, the telco suffered an outage of its NBN services and 4G services.

The Federal Government has indicated that it would carry out an inquiry into the failure of the triple-zero service, but Senator Griff said a broader investigation was needed as a matter of urgency.

He said he intended to introduce a motion for a Senate inquiry when sittings resumed in June. The scope would be the reliability and security of voice and data communications - including landlines, satellite, mobile and broadband services.

“How can Australia’s largest telco network not have effective redundancies to reroute traffic and manage a quicker return to service during major outages?” Senator Griff asked.

“Network failures have a massive and widespread impact – people’s lives are put at risk, businesses are impacted – so we need to take a closer look at what we can do to prevent or at least lessen the impact of widespread outages in future.

“This is privately-owned but essential infrastructure. We need to look at the reliability and security of telecommunications networks more closely, and we need to look at best practice elsewhere in the world, to consider how these systems can be fortified to manage adverse events.”

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Sam Varghese

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A professional journalist with decades of experience, Sam for nine years used DOS and then Windows, which led him to start experimenting with GNU/Linux in 1998. Since then he has written widely about the use of both free and open source software, and the people behind the code. His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

 

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