News National Telstra offers free data after ’embarrassing’ human error
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Telstra offers free data after ’embarrassing’ human error

About 16.7 million services were affected.
Telstra is one of the companies that has expressed interest. Photo: Getty
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Millions of Telstra customers left stranded by the telco on Tuesday due to an “embarrassing human error” that caused a nationwide outage will be compensated.

Individuals and businesses were left outraged and helpless when a malfunction caused by a technician affected phone calls and data usage, as well as SMS and online warning alerts for residents in a bushfire zone in Western Australia.

The outage hit the 4G, 3G and 2G networks at about 1pm (AEDT) and services started to be restored by 4.30pm – with some of those affected already raising the issue of compensation after loss of trade and business.

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Telstra’s chief operations officer Kate McKenzie said all mobile phone customers would be given free data this Sunday to make amends for the national outage which prevented about 1.5 million people making calls and going online.

“We’re incredibly disappointed the outage occurred and deeply sorry for the inconvenience we caused,” Ms McKenzie said in a statement.

“Customers don’t need to do anything to receive the free data, it will happen automatically for all of our mobile customers.”

Some people were unable to make phone calls and use data.
Some people were unable to make phone calls and use data. Photo: Getty

The issue was caused by human error while repairs were being made to a malfunctioning node.

A Telstra spokeswoman said earlier on Tuesday there would be an investigation into the incident.

“This is an embarrassing human error. It’s not okay. We do not like causing that level of inconvenience to our customers,” the spokeswoman told The New Daily.

She said the problem began when one of the mobile nodes used to manage voice and data traffic between devices and the network started to malfunction.

“We took that node down, unfortunately the individual that was managing that issue did not follow the correct procedure, and he reconnected the customers to the malfunctioning node, rather than transferring them to the nine other redundant nodes that he should have transferred people to,” she said.

“Unfortunately this had a flow-on consequence and it led to massive congestion across the rest of the nodes.

“I can now happily say we restored services to all of our customers. Our first and most important priority was making sure voice traffic, data traffic across all of our customer base was restored as quickly as possible. I can say that has now happened.”

Ms McKenzie said normally this would not have been an issue, but because of human error the outage was caused.

“Ten nodes across the company enable us to be able to manage traffic and connections for voice and data around the whole country,” she said.

“Normally we could take down three or four of those nodes but on this occasion the correct procedure was not followed.”

At the peak of the disruption 4663 reports of Telstra problems were logged by aussieoutages.com.

Services were restored for most customers by about 4.30pm on Tuesday.

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Fire threat ‘not communicated’

The WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) said the SMS and online warning system for people in Myalup fire zone was down due to the Telstra outage.

DFES South West Superintendent Ricky Curtis said some of their communications avenues had been compromised.

“Whilst the mobile network is down, the text warning system is not achievable, but landlines however can still receive phone calls under the telephone warning system,” he said.

“The second issue is that the internet access is also compromised, so the ability to get current information from places like the DFES website and others is compromised.”

The telco confirmed that customers were still able to contact emergency services from their mobile phones.

Customers took to social media to blast the telco over the failure, while others saw it as an opportunity to poke fun at Telstra.

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with AAP/ABC

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