Optus’ parent company Singtel breaks its silence on nationwide outage: ‘Don’t blame us’

Optus’ parent company has broken its silence on last week’s nationwide blackout, denying responsibility for the communications outage that alienated millions of Australians and put future government contracts under scrutiny.

Singtel, the Singaporean telecommunications conglomerate that owns Optus, said Thursday that a routine upgrade was not the cause of last Wednesday’s daylong outage, which cut internet and mobile access to about 10.2 million customers.

‘We are aware that Optus experienced a network outage following the upgrade, when a significant increase in the number of (internet) addresses passed through their network triggered pre-set failsafes. However, the upgrade was not the cause,” a Singtel spokesperson said in a statement.

Optus blamed changes to ‘routing information’ following the upgrade, with company CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin (pictured) criticized for her slow response to last Wednesday’s nationwide outage.

‘Sometimes STiX (the Singtel internet Exchange) performs software upgrades to its infrastructure.

‘STiX had scheduled a routine software upgrade on one of its routers at 1am Singapore Time on 8 November 2023 (4am AEDT) and, as usual, has given advance notice to all affected customers, including Optus and other telcos.

‘During the upgrade, data traffic was routed to other points of presence on the STiX network and back to customer networks.

‘The STiX upgrade was completed within 20 minutes and all its customers’ routers connected to it, including Optus, were operational.’

On Monday, Optus blamed changes in ‘routing information’ following the upgrade.

“Around 4:05 a.m. on Wednesday morning, the Optus network received changes to routing information from an international peering network (Singtel internet Exchange) following a routine software upgrade,” Optus said in a statement.

The parent company of Optus (pictured) said last week's nationwide phone and internet outage was not the result of a routine upgrade carried out by the company

The parent company of Optus (pictured) said last week’s nationwide phone and internet outage was not the result of a routine upgrade carried out by the company

“There, changes in routing information propagated through multiple layers in our network and exceeded preset security levels on key routers that could not handle them.”

The statement said the action resulted in routers disconnecting from the Optus IP Core network to protect themselves.

This resulted in a large-scale effort to physically reconnect or restart the routers, which required ‘the dispatch of people across a number of locations in Australia’.

“This is why the recovery was gradual over the course of the afternoon,” Optus said.

On Thursday, Optus said SingTel’s statement did not contradict its own assessment of the cause of the failure.

“We are making changes to our network to ensure this does not happen again,” a spokesperson told NCA NewsWire.

“Singtel is supporting Optus as we learn from what has happened and continue to work to improve the resilience of our network.”

The pressure on the controversial telecommunications giant is increasing after the power outage.

South Australian Prime Minister Peter Malinauskas has threatened to cut multi-million dollar contracts with the company and Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin will face Senate deliberations tomorrow about what went wrong on Wednesday.