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Understanding the Impact of Optus Outage on People with Disability: Ensuring Accessible Services


In the early hours of Wednesday, November 8, 2023, Australians woke up to a significant nationwide disruption in telecommunications services. Optus, one of the prominent telecom providers, faced an extensive network outage that persisted for more than 12 hours, affecting millions across the country.

Since then the Optus CEO has resigned 'in the best interest of Optus' (link at the end of the article).

The Disruption

The outage halted not just mobile services but also impacted landlines, home internet, small businesses, and cloud connections. The severity of the situation escalated when Optus landlines lost the ability to dial emergency services like 000. This posed a critical safety risk, particularly for those reliant on immediate emergency assistance. In the wake of the recent Optus outage, it is important for providers to think about ensuring accessibility for people with disabilities, highlighting the critical need for reliable telecommunications services to support this vulnerable community during disruptions.

Impact on Accessibility and Safety

More than 10 million Optus customers were left grappling with the outage's consequences. Vital services, including Melbourne's train network and small business transactions, came to a standstill. The inability of Optus mobile phones to connect to emergency services heightened the risk for those needing urgent help.

Understanding the Cause

Optus attributed the extensive outage to what they described as a "routine software upgrade" gone wrong. This led to a cascading failure in their internet protocol (IP) core network, disrupting the backbone that authorizes device access and manages customer connections.

According to Optus, the network overload resulted from changes in routing information that overwhelmed key routers in their core network. These routers, unable to handle the excessive changes, disconnected to protect themselves, causing the entire network to collapse.

Addressing the Concerns

Optus has claimed to have identified the cause and taken steps to prevent a recurrence.

However, the explanation provided has raised doubts among telecommunications experts, citing ambiguities and concerns about the likelihood of a similar incident happening again.

Impact on People with Disabilities

For individuals relying on services like the NDIS, such outages present critical challenges. Loss of communication, inability to access emergency services, and disruptions in essential support systems directly impact the safety and well-being of those with disabilities.

The blackout serves as a poignant reminder of the vulnerabilities faced by individuals who rely heavily on seamless connectivity and uninterrupted services for their daily needs.

Moving Forward

As telecommunications professionals, we echo concerns regarding the explanation provided by Optus. Ensuring the safety and accessibility of telecommunications services for all Australians, especially those with disabilities, demands a more comprehensive and robust approach to network maintenance and upgrades.

This incident highlights the urgency for providers to reassess their protocols and invest in measures to minimize the likelihood of such disruptive events, prioritizing the safety and accessibility of all individuals, regardless of their circumstances.

Stay Connected and Secure with Us

At Quality Care Victoria, your connectivity and safety are our top priorities. We understand the importance of staying connected, especially for individuals relying on our services, like those within the NDIS community.

Our commitment goes beyond just providing services – we regularly monitor our connectivity infrastructure, conducting routine checks to ensure seamless accessibility. Your ability to reach us when you need assistance remains our unwavering focus.

Furthermore, your security matters to us. We take extensive measures to safeguard your information and review the protocols we have in place to protect your privacy and ensure the safety of your interactions with us.

Our dedication to your safety extends to maintaining the highest standards in data security and privacy practices.We continuously strive to provide a dependable and secure service for all our users, empowering you to stay connected and access our services with confidence, knowing that your well-being is our priority.

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