Doctors and carers across Australia are facing a communication crisis as Optus, one of the largest telecommunications providers in the country, grapples with one of the biggest outages in Australian history. The outage, which began at 4am on Wednesday, has left Optus mobile users without the ability to make or receive calls and texts, while the internet network and home broadband services have also gone down.
Affected areas include Brisbane, Perth, Sydney, Melbourne, the ACT, Tasmania, and Adelaide, with medical professionals in these areas reporting difficulties in using phones during life-threatening situations. One carer shared his experience of being unable to call an ambulance for a patient who was suffering from a heart attack, resorting to borrowing a phone from a passerby. Another doctor, on-call for emergency operations, found himself without the means to make vital phone calls or access the internet.
The impact of the Optus outage is not limited to medical professionals and carers. Hospitals such as Sydney's Westmead Private Hospital and Melbourne's Austin Hospital have reported phone line disruptions, leading to communication challenges. Patients' families are also feeling the strain, with one woman expressing her anxiety and frustration after being unable to contact her mother admitted to Northern Hospital in Epping.
Beyond healthcare, the Optus outage has also caused major disruptions in other sectors. Melbourne's train network experienced a temporary shutdown, leaving commuters stranded, and Uber prices surged as drivers were forced offline due to the blackout. Other telcos that rely on the Optus mobile network, including Amaysim, Vaya, and Dodo Mobile, have also experienced outages.
As the outage continues, Optus has yet to provide a clear explanation for the system failure. Communications Minister Michelle Rowland emphasized the need for answers, while EFTM technology expert Trevor Long dubbed it the "biggest telco outage" in Australia. Optus users have taken to social media to express their frustration and concern, with some only able to make emergency calls or experiencing a complete loss of reception.
With an estimated 10.2 million users affected, the extent of the communication disruption caused by the Optus outage highlights the importance of reliable and resilient telecommunication services, especially in critical situations. The urgent resolution of this issue is crucial to ensure the safety and well-being of individuals across the country who rely on these services for their daily lives.