Fire Causes Widspread Outage for Australia's Telstra

February 03, 2017

By Michael Guta - Contributing Writer

Information and communications technologies (ICT) has made our lives much easier. The smart phones we carry with us at all times allows us to communicate, work, play, shop and conduct financial transactions. So, if the network that provides all of these capabilities goes down, it becomes a major inconvenience, and also highlights how much our dependence has grown on these devices. A fire at a network exchange in Sydney for Australia's largest telecom operator, Telstra (News - Alert), resulted in widespread service outages when the power infrastructure was damaged.

The fire was at a single location, but because of the connected nature of networks, it affected regions throughout the whole country, disrupting voice mobile services and delivering text messages to the wrong recipients. The issue with the texts led the company to put all messages on hold until the network was fixed.

Although Telstra fixed the problem within two hours, that is a lot of downtime, especially for businesses. One of the countries airlines, Jetstar, reported nine Australian flights had been delayed 45 minutes, which highlights the chain effect of the damage one single incident can cause.

The power protection technology available today allows individuals as well as organizations large and small to ensure they will continue to have power in the event of a disaster. Telstra has not given details about the redundancy system it has in place for power protection, or what was damaged during the fire but there was obviously a problem in the business continuity the company was using.

Telstra chief executive officer Andrew Penn said, "We have more than 40,000 kilometers of fiber, 5,000 exchange buildings, and more than 9,000 mobile towers. You can never guarantee these things, it's a large complex network. Physical assets are susceptible, they do get damaged."

Penn's statements are true, but the company has experienced more than eight outages in the past year, according to a report by CNET Australia. And with 17.2 million mobile services, 7.0 million fixed voice services and 3.4 million retail fixed broadband services, each outage can be very costly.

Having power protection not only applies to businesses. Many of the consumer electronics we have in our homes are highly sensitive to power fluctuations, which can literally fry your computer, smartTVs, tablets and more. With the right UPS and surge protector, you can prevent any damage from taking place. 

Edited by Stefania Viscusi