Outage causes grief for local businesses



‘FRUSTRATED’ couldn’t adequately describe the way Latrobe Valley small business owners felt amid the national Optus network outage.

More than 10 million Optus customers were affected by the nation-wide blackout on Wednesday, November 8 that put many without communication, internet and transaction access.

John Papanikolaou has ran his small poultry business in Manny’s Market for 32 years. In his time, the small business owner had never experienced an outage such as this.

“It’s frustrating because A, you can’t get any comment and B, you don’t get any compensation when you can’t serve customers,” he said.

Valley Poultry was forced to turn cashless customers away as their EFTPOS machine was down for the majority of the day.

Since the pandemic, there has been huge push to pay electronically to avoid the spread of germs, but for small businesses, cash is always king.

Mr Papanikolaou said the outage was just another reason why he continues to insist on cash use as it is still more convenient for small business owners.

“If we were purely electronic we would of had to shut today,” he said.

“Things are tough as it is,” he added.

Latrobe Valley Real Estate took to Facebook to notify customers that they too were affected by the Optus outage. Seeing the humour in a telecommunications blackout, the agency posted a light-hearted meme taking a jab at Optus operations.

TAFE Gippsland’s landline phones were out across all of their campuses. Even radio wasn’t safe as Life FM Gippsland’s broadcast was disrupted because of the outage.

You would hope no kids had to phone home after a trip to the sick bay at South Street Primary School in Moe, which also had no phone or internet service for the entire day, having only email as its point of communication.

Optus apologised for the connection meltdown while the federal Greens are pushing for an urgent inquiry into the outage.

“We’re very sorry for the outage,” the telecommunications company posted.

“We know the importance of being connected and we’re deeply sorry that your service was interrupted. We thank you for your understanding and patience while we worked to restore our operations.

“We’re committed to working tirelessly to provide the value you deserve and the great network experience you expect from us.”

Optus has rolled out some compensation offers – offering customers up to 200 gigabytes of extra data until the new year for the inconvenience.

For business customers, Optus said that “all businesses are unique and have been impacted in different ways and we’re here to help”.

“We know this is a busy time of the year for you and your business, so we are providing at least 200GB of extra data for each eligible mobile service on your account.”

While the company has yet to determine the direct cause of the outage it was put down to a “deep fault” in Optus’ network with an investigation into the failure underway.

For more information on Optus’ response, go to optus.com.au/notices/outage-response