On March 22, the Australian telecom giant Telstra went through yet another network outrage, making it the fourth one in the past two months. What’s even more concerning that each of the issues were caused by four different reasons, putting the network infrastructure of Telstra in question. The latest issue was caused by a card failure in one of its media gateway and network operations were down for hours. Users mostly in Victoria, NSW and Tasmania, were not able to make or receive calls in their mobile phone for the duration. Though Telstra apologized to the users over social media, the recent scenarios may have put a dent in their reputation. Even after claiming in social media at 1pm that the issue has been fixed, users still reported problems up until 5pm. Telstra claimed that only 3% of their customers were affected but given the reactions and responses everywhere, it was probably much more
The first network operation failure was seen in February 10th when Telstra’s COO Kate McKenzie reported it as an “human error”. Apparently, one of the engineers restarted a malfunctioning node without following the proper procedures which resulted in a chain reaction of system crashes. The network is maintained with 10 major nodes for large areas, and due to the problem resulted in pushing the customers on congested nodes, ultimately leading to issues in voice calls and mobile internet. Though the issue was resolved within hours and Telstra offer one day worth of free data to their users, it still put a worrying thought on everyone’s mind. A network that is meant for millions of people could be brought down simply because of the inefficiency of one person.
Soon after, within less than a month, Telstra faced another network failure, this time only affecting prepaid users. Though they did not disclose the details behind the cause, it can be assumed it was the result of a software related issue because of its nature. On March 17, Telstra’s network operation went down nationwide yet again, this time for four hours in the evening. Users were unable to make calls or use data on the busy weekday and displayed major disappointments on Telstra. The failure was reported to be related to submarine cable, pushing network to become congested and devices failed to register.
After each of the incidents, Telstra has apologized to the customers and acknowledged the issues and difficulties they are facing. Their rival Vodafone offered one month of free data to anyone who switches over, and after the recent incidents, many might take it. Telstra has branded themselves as the premium telco company, leading the market with the largest user base. Given the severity of the problems and the frequency, it puts the entire brand of the company in an awkward position. Whether this it due to the lack of a quality infrastructure, experts, communication or transparency, a company who is accountable to millions cant risk such inconsistency. Especially when only last year, CEO Andy Penn committed to invest $5 billion in network infrastructure within the next 3 years. On their recent announcements, Telstra declared that they will redouble their efforts and rebuild their structure to match the growing need of the market. They are to look into experts for consultation and planning in the hope that such incidents never rise up again.