Update on service interruption
Network |

Update on service interruption

By Mike Wright May 22, 2018

Yesterday we experienced a service disruption that impacted a large number of our mobile and business data customers. Our world is increasingly connected and reliant on the breadth, speed and functionality of our network and our customers rightly have high expectations of Telstra.

We are very sorry for any inconvenience caused by yesterday’s issue. We provided regular updates during the interruption and we can now share more information on the technical cause.

Starting from approximately 10:00am some key network equipment failed causing a disruption to 4G voice and data services nationally. The impact was widespread and with a large number of customers dropping back to 3G there was significant disruption to 3G voice and data services as demand exceeded the capacity of our 3G network.

We have identified that the initial cause of the disruption was a software fault which triggered multiple elements across the network to fail.

The network is designed to switch onto standby hardware in such a situation which it did. However, following the failover a further fault caused an interruption which impacted 4G services. There is redundancy built into these systems but the system did not operate as intended.

By around 11:40am we had successfully isolated the impacted network infrastructure and services began to be progressively restored. It took about two hours for full service to be restored after that, although our team was working longer with some government and enterprise customers to help them with their systems recovery.

We are still investigating the root cause of the software fault. We are working closely with our technology vendors on the specific element of software which triggered the issue to correct that fault and to understand why the redundancy in our network did not prevent customer impact.

Our network is large and complex comprising of more than 500,000 individual network elements. Given this size and scale, no one can guarantee that disruptions won’t ever happen. What we can do is reduce the likelihood and the impact of those disruptions, especially as mobile services are more important than ever for our customers.

We know how important reliability is to our customers and we are continuing to invest in our network to meet the ever growing demand for connectivity at the highest levels of resilience. We are investing billions of dollars a year to deliver the best mobile network in Australia with the largest coverage footprint and faster speeds in more places.

Telstra cable damage and impact on 000 calls
Network |

Telstra cable damage and impact on 000 calls

By Mike Wright May 4, 2018

One of our key interstate cables in New South Wales was seriously damaged overnight by fire, causing intermittent service interruptions in several States.

A fibre repair team was rushed to the site, east of Orange, and all impacted services including some impact to Emergency 000 have now been restored.

We take our responsibilities to connect people very seriously, particularly with E000, and we deeply apologise for the impact to services.

The disruption commenced at approximately 2:00am. Impacted routers were restored about 4:50am and services progressively restored to normal. The cable was fixed at approximately 11:00am with other services coming back online after that.

Our initial inspection showed significant fire damage consistent with a lightning strike. We will complete a full investigation to verify the cause of the fire.

Most call traffic was successfully diverted to alternative cables and equipment. However, an issue occurred with the routing of some traffic which resulted in intermittent disruptions to E000 calls. A number of our business and government customers experienced some disruption to voice and data services, including EFTPOS.

Our initial investigation shows a key piece of router equipment did not respond as intended which resulted in some traffic not re-routing as expected. This is the focus of our investigation.

If any customers are still experiencing issues with their service we encourage them to contact a Telstra customer service representative. We remain vigilant to ensure there are no subsequent issues from this morning’s cable damage. We continue to work closely with emergency services providers in each State.

We take pride in the resilience of our network and would obviously not want any interruptions to ever occur.

Regional |

The trouble with illegal mobile repeaters

By Mark Bolton April 13, 2018

Dropped calls, slow data speeds and poor reception can be symptoms of interference on the network. Although customers are quick to point the finger at their network providers, we are increasingly finding that illegally supplied mobile repeater devices are often the culprit.

Every month we find illegal repeaters causing a disruption to mobile coverage for around 20 different communities across the country.

Mobile repeaters are intended to improve mobile coverage in places where the mobile signal is weak. The devices work by wirelessly replicating or ‘repeating’ a mobile signal from a location where signal is usable, to boost reception into another area where coverage is lacking.

The problem with illegal repeater devices, and the reason using them is against the law, is that without the necessary authorisation for use – and, more importantly, the technical specifications and internal protections of Telstra approved devices – they can and do cause major interference on the network.

They do this by generating an excessive level of “noise” that can degrade network performance for other users, and effectively drown out other communications, including on the portion of our network used by emergency services. Unauthorised repeaters are also more prone to failure, which can have unintended consequences and cause further interference.

While reception may improve in the immediate vicinity of an illegal repeater, the coverage for people located elsewhere in the coverage area – particularly for those using devices on the edge of the coverage area – is often degraded or even lost completely.

The result of the increase of illegal repeaters is thousands of Australians with poor or intermittent reception, slow data speeds, and no way to run their business or connect with loved ones. And imagine what it could mean in an emergency.

Interference caused by illegal mobile repeaters becomes life-threatening when it prevents people from calling Triple Zero in an emergency.  For these reasons we, alongside the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and state and territory government agencies, are working hard to reduce the instances of illegal mobile repeaters.

In the past 12 months, we have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars developing and distributing radio frequency detection tools, capable of approximating the location of active interferers. When we detect these devices, we take steps to have them removed, which can include reporting the illegal repeater to the ACMA for enforcement action.

To operate a mobile repeater, it must be a carrier approved device such as the Telstra Mobile Smart Antenna and customers must obtain an authorisation from their carrier for its use.

More information can be found on the ACMA website.

More information about the laws surrounding mobile repeaters can be found in ACMA’s guide for consumers.

For more information on the Telstra Mobile Smart Antenna, customers should visit their local Telstra Store or online. For more options for the Telstra Mobile Network please visit our coverage map.

Network |

Keeping Telstra customers better informed about network outages

By Chris Davies October 10, 2017

We have made a number of improvements to our Service Status Page to help our customers when you’re searching online for information about network outages.

When you operate large and complex networks like ours, from time to time there will be service interruptions or outages as they’re sometimes known. These network outages are generally caused by a loss of power in parts of our network, builders or construction companies cutting one of our cables, equipment failure and extreme weather such as storms, cyclones and floods.

When something does go wrong, our teams do everything they can to restore our customers’ services as quickly as possible. Indeed, the majority of network issues are fixed in under four hours and many much quicker than this.

That said, we know that if your service is impacted even briefly, you want to know what is happening and when you’ll be reconnected.

Until recently, you have been able to search online for outages on Telstra’s Service Status Page and receive general information by postcode. Our customers told us that this information was sometimes confusing – they wanted more specific information relevant to their service and clearer guidance on what to do next.

One of the biggest improvements we have made is the way our customers can search. Instead querying using a postcode, you can perform a personalised search using your home address to check for outages affecting your home telephone and internet services. This delivers results tailored to your service address. You can know with certainty if there is an outage affecting your address and if so, the cause of the outage and when you’ll be reconnected.

If your service is not impacted by an outage in the area, we guide you through smart troubleshooting steps at telstra.com/fix which test, diagnose and resolve common issues.

For customers searching for information about mobile and network outages, we have added maps that show specific geographical areas that may be impacting a customer’s mobile service. This is far more accurate and helpful for customers, especially if a mobile outage is confined to a few streets and not an entire suburb.

All of these new features and improvements were based on feedback from our customers, who want effortless digital experiences, transparent information and fast resolution. Keep an eye out too for new features we will be adding in the coming months.

The Service Status page can be accessed by visiting outages.telstra.com.

Network |

Understanding the impact to customers’ service after Cyclone Debbie

By Matthew O'Hara April 7, 2017

Events in Queensland and northern New South Wales in the past week have reminded us just how powerful Mother Nature can be. Tropical Cyclone Debbie began in the Whitsunday Islands last Tuesday, and its after effects are still being felt down the east coast.

The Cyclone has left a path of destruction across many towns and communities and damaged a lot of Telstra infrastructure along the way. Up until now, our focus has been on restoring power to the hundreds of network sites that were in the Cyclone’s path. Telstra’s core network is connected to exchange buildings and mobile base stations, and these sites rely on power to operate, which in many cases was lost after Cyclone Debbie and the subsequent storms came through. Back-up batteries and emergency generators supported most of these sites while we waited for power to be restored. This has progressively happened over the past few days, and most network-related services that were affected by the Cyclone and storms have been recovered, bringing a large proportion of our affected customers back online.

Our restoration efforts will now shift focus to fixing the Telstra infrastructure that connects our exchange buildings to our customers’ premises. Things like our underground cables, roadside cabinets, pillars and pits that are dotted all around towns and neighbourhoods along the east coast. The extreme weather and flooding has severely damaged some of this infrastructure. In the areas where the water has receded we already know a lot of cables have been severed and washed away, joints have been corroded, and many of our pits and roadside cabinets have been water logged.

In other areas that are still underwater, our infrastructure is still completely submerged and we don’t yet know the full extent of the damage. There will also be individual customer faults from weather damage to homes and businesses that we are not yet aware of that will be reported by customers over the coming days.

All of this has and will continue to impact our customers’ services. We’re already seeing a significant increase in the number of faults reported by customers as the power comes back on. We expect the fault volumes will continue to rise across north Queensland, Brisbane, south east Queensland and northern New South Wales.

In addition to the field technicians we already have in the affected areas, we have mobilised more technicians from parts of Queensland that weren’t affected by the Cyclone. We’re also bringing in more resources from other parts of the country to help with our recovery efforts.

Our teams will be working around the clock to repair the infrastructure and fix the faults, but it is going to take time. Given the number of faults caused by the weather, our teams are likely to remain in Queensland and northern New South Wales for the next few months.

We know this is an extremely difficult time for our customers and the communities that have been affected. We are doing everything we can to get you connected as quickly as possible, and we will continue to keep you updated on our progress.

You can also visit servicestatus.telstra.com/ for updates in your area.