Free-data Frenzy As Telstra Explains Cause Of Outages

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After Telstra subscribers took the opportunity of a “free data” day on Sunday to download a record 2686 terabytes, chief operations officer Kate McKenzie yesterday offered an explanation of what had caused three recent outages that affected millions of customers.In the first case, on February 9, she said a fault
with one of the signalling nodes used to manage Telstra’s 3G and 4G data
sessions and voice calls on its mobile network had started acting up.

The node was removed from the network, but further problems arose “due to
processes not being followed properly,” McKenzie told a telecoms
confereence in Sydney.

More mobile signalling nodes were quickly overloaded, meaning customers were
unable to make voice calls or access data.

McKenzie said the employee responsible for the error is still working at
Telstra. “We’re not into victimising people. We understand in the heat of
the moment, the right decisions aren’t always made,” she said.

. The second major outage on March 17 saw around 50 percent of Telstra users
unable to make mobile voice calls or access data.

In this case an international cable fault caused parts of Telstra’s signalling
to disconnect. Efforts to reconnect all affected users at the same time again
overloaded the database.

. In the most recent case, on March 22, mobile, IP telephony and NBN voice
customers were unable to make or receive voice calls for several hours – but
McKenzie claimed only around three percent of customers were affected.

She said Telstra, with help from network partners Cisco, Ericsson and Juniper
has already improved robustness in the network. And she pointed to the
successful downloading of the record 2686TB of data on Sunday as evidence that
the network is now up to the strain.

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