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Emergency calls under spotlight after Optus failure


Australia’s triple-zero call network will come into focus after the Optus outage prevented hundreds of people making emergency calls, in a scandal that triggered the resignation of the telco’s top boss.

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Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin stepped down on Monday, days after a thorough Senate grilling over the hours-long outage on November 8 that left millions of Australians without access to the internet or cell service.

While Monash University strategy and international business professor Mariano Heyden believes her resignation was necessary, more must be done to win back Australians’ confidence.

“The old adage rings true for the resignation of Bayer Rosmarin: heads must roll,” he said.

“(But) it is largely a short-term reaction to stop the bleeding without directly addressing root causes.

“Repairing public trust in Optus cannot solely be achieved by simply changing the CEO – rather, it also needs to be a by-product of authentic change in the way they conduct business.”

Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the CEO’s decision to stand-down showed leadership.

“We obviously now need to see Optus really restore trust with the Australian people and to fix their crisis management,” she said..

“We all rely on the use of our mobile phone, on internet data to do so much with our daily lives and we need to make sure the rules and regulations are fit for purpose.

“We need to make sure we’re putting the rights of the public, the public interest, first and foremost. These are essential services, not just some luxury.”

Though it is unclear how the telco will move forward, the government is attempting to take lessons from the outage about the stability and accessibility of the nation’s networks.

During the Senate inquiry, it was revealed that 228 emergency calls were unable to go through and Optus still does not know why.

At the time, Bayer Rosmarin said it was “too early” to tell where the issue occurred but said the triple-zero system should have been able to pick up the traffic during an outage.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says the government will set up a review into the outage that may analyse the nation’s emergency call framework.

“We’ll be transparent about sending that message through to the private sector as well as to the public sector – but this was a shocking incident,” he said.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority has independently begun an assessment to investigate Optus’s compliance with rules on emergency calls.

The rules cover such obligations as conducting welfare checks on people making unsuccessful emergency calls during an outage and providing access to emergency call services.


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