Friday, 18 March 2016 08:04

Telstra apologises for mobile outage, free data day Sunday 3 April Featured


Once again, Australia’s largest telco, Telstra, has been forced to offer its customers a ‘free data day’ in response to yet another failing of its mobile network.

As we reported yesterday, Telstra’s mobile network suffered yet another uncharacteristic outage

Given the seriousness of the situation, we couldn’t resist a little mischievousness, wondering aloud whether Telstra’s latest recruits, Stephen Elop or Kevin Russell, might have somehow contributed to the snafu, or whether it was Chinese, Russian or other hackers.

If Telstra is to be believed, it was none of the above, not that we truly expected any of the aforementioned to truly in any way be responsible (although one never knows about hackers), so the question now remains - what does Telstra have to say about the issue?

Well, as you would have quite rightly imagined, Telstra did have something to say this morning, with an unnamed spokesperson tasked with stating that Telstra noted the issue ‘started at around 6pm and we started seeing progressive restoration from around 7.30pm. The issue was sporadic so different people were impacted at different times.’

The anonymous spokesperson wants to be quoted saying: “We sincerely apologise to our customers for the inconvenience we have caused again. As a way of saying we’re sorry we’ll be providing a free data day for all of our mobile customers on Sunday 3 April.

“We had a problem that triggered a significant number of customers to be disconnected from the network. Reconnecting them to the network caused congestion. We had a connection problem overseas impacting international roaming customers which then had a flow-on effect domestically.

“The issue is not related to the outage that occurred in early February. The problem that repeated itself was in people reconnecting to the network.

“Following the last event we commenced a major process and engineering review of the network, which includes global network experts, to understand how it occurred, and while the two incidents are not related, we will add the lessons learned from this incident to that review.”

Quite why Andrew Penn, CEO of Telstra, couldn’t do a Steve Jobs and personally apologise by putting his name to this statement is unknown - maybe Penn isn’t as gutsy as Steve Jobs was, or Tim Cook for Apple’s Maps snafu.

More below, please read on.

Perhaps putting Penn to paper for such an apology is beneath Telstra’s top executive.

I can only speculate, but I do note the examples of Apple’s leaders and wonder aloud, and very publicly, as to whether or not it might have been nice to see Penn issue a mea culpa from the highest level to seek forgiveness from his customers.

After all, to misquote Oscar Wilde, to have one major network outage on Australia’s premier mobile network may be regarded as a misfortune, but to have it happen twice (and even thrice if you count Telstra MVNO Boost Mobile’s recent recharge snafus) looks like carelessness.

Still, if Telstra has to keep on giving free data days, who knows, some might silently hope Telstra stuffs up more often, as it's quite rare to see any telco makin' it easy for you to download hundreds of free gigabytes of mobile data!

UPDATE: Telstra CEO Andrew Penn has now issued a personal apology to users for the outage.


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.



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