Investigation into Optus outage prompts significant changes. What can be expected now?

Investigation into Optus outage prompts significant changes. What can be expected now?

The release of the post-incident report on the Optus outage in November has prompted significant changes in the telecommunications industry. The report, led by Richard Bean, former deputy chair of the Australian Communications and Media Authority, has made 18 recommendations to improve accountability and oversight of the Triple Zero emergency service.

The outage affected over 10 million mobile and broadband services, resulting in thousands of failed calls to Triple Zero. Hospitals, schools, businesses, and commuters also experienced disruptions. As a result, telecommunications companies will now be required to share more information with customers during outages and establish a body to manage the Triple Zero service.

The government has agreed to all 18 recommendations and plans to implement them within the next 12-18 months. This includes mandating new rules for communication between carriers and customers during and after outages, implementing a comprehensive testing regime for Triple Zero accessibility, establishing a Triple Zero custodian for oversight, reviewing legislation and regulations related to Triple Zero, reviewing the government’s contract with Telstra for operating the emergency service system, and encouraging industry collaboration in managing and resolving outages.

These changes aim to improve the resilience of the telecommunications industry and enhance customer confidence in the Triple Zero service. The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman will initially lead the establishment of the Triple Zero custodian framework. Carriers will also be required to share real-time outage information with emergency services, develop systems for collaboration during outages, and implement new guidelines for communication.

For customers, these changes mean that telecommunications companies will be more responsive to concerns about outages, and there will be improvements in the complaint and compensation process. Small businesses, in particular, will benefit from a less burdensome compensation process.

While these changes are a step towards a more robust telecommunications system, there is still work to be done. The industry needs to undergo a broader review to develop and implement minimum performance standards. This review should address the weaknesses in the system and ensure that Australians can use telecommunications safely, securely, and reliably.

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