Optus parent SingTel denies software upgrade as root cause for outage

Optus parent SingTel denies software upgrade as root cause for outage

December 04, 2023

Singtel, the parent company of Optus, debunked recent reports claiming a routine custom software upgrade as the culprit behind the colossal outage experienced by its Australian arm. According to Singtel, the upgrade, conducted at the Singtel Internet Exchange (STiX), was part of standard maintenance and involved a router.

Before the upgrade, the company clarified that prior notifications were dispatched to affected parties, including Optus and other telecom firms. During this process, data traffic was efficiently redirected to alternate points within the STiX network, ensuring uninterrupted connectivity for customers.

Singtel emphasised that the software upgrade concluded swiftly within a mere 20 minutes, swiftly restoring connectivity for routers linked to the system, including Optus'. They further clarified that while Optus experienced a network disruption post-upgrade, the root cause wasn't attributed to the upgrade itself. This could be a cyber attack, as experienced by Microsoft in June, which had its cloud service disrupted for some time, but as the incident unfolds, we will know the final cause.

However, the fallout from the November 8 outage was substantial, impacting over 10 million Optus customers and disrupting critical services, including emergency calls and essential business operations for around 400,000 businesses. The repercussions were far-reaching, leading to disruptions in payment systems and even affecting train services in Victoria.

Optus released an explanatory FAQ detailing that changes in routing information from an international peering network triggered safety measures in their system, causing routers to disconnect as a protective measure. Restoring these systems demanded significant efforts, including physical reconnections and reboots across various sites.

To prevent a recurrence, Optus has implemented alterations within its network infrastructure. Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin is set to address a Senate inquiry to shed light on the incident.

Meanwhile, Australia's government has initiated a post-incident review to investigate the outage's impact on telecommunications services. Regulatory authorities are also conducting assessments to ensure compliance with emergency call mandates.
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The aftermath of the outage and its ripple effects have underscored the critical need for robust network resilience and measures to mitigate such disruptions, sparking a closer examination of Australia's telecommunications landscape.