Inquiry into telco network outages urgently needed

24 May 2018

Centre Alliance Senator Stirling Griff will move for an inquiry into telecommunications stability and security following Telstra’s second significant network failure in less than a month.

Senator Griff said he had long held concerns about the security of the nation’s telecommunications, including the operation of mobile phone towers during natural disasters and prolonged blackouts.

These latest outages highlights to everyone how fragile the entire system can be, he said.

“How can Australia’s largest telco network not have effective redundancies to reroute traffic and manage a quicker return to service during major outages?” Senator Griff said.

“Network failures have a massive and widespread impact – people’s lives are put at risk, businesses are impacted – so we need to take a closer look at what we can do to prevent or at least lessen the impact of widespread outages in future.”

Senator Griff intends to introduce a motion for a Senate inquiry when sitting resumes in June, to probe the reliability and security of voice and data communications - including landlines, satellite, mobile and broadband services.

Senator Griff’s concerns came to a head after the Telstra outage this week left millions of Australians without voice and data services for hours, and which the telco has since blamed on software problems after initially being unable to identify a cause.

The Government has already pledged to investigate the earlier Telstra outage which affected Triple-0 emergency calls as a result of damage to just one cable, but Senator Griff said a broader inquiry was urgently needed.

“This is privately-owned but essential infrastructure. We need to look at the reliability and security of telecommunications networks more closely, and we need to look at best practice elsewhere in the world, to consider how these systems can be fortified to manage adverse events.”  

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