A horrible day for Telstra and one they certainly hoped they wouldn’t see so early in 2017 and certainly in 2017 at all – voice, data(Updated, no data issues today according to Telstra) and SMS services as well as some landline services across Australia suffered outages today after a fire in a Chatswood exchange.

Of course, the cause of the fire will be investigated and one hopes no-one was injured in the fire or during the recovery effort. And I’m not even interested in what caused the fire – as crazy as it seems, these things happen right?

But as the network comes back to normal (slowly) and at the time of writing all voice services have been restored – Telstra customers across Australia must surely be left wondering – what the hell happened?

A fire in a Sydney exchange caused disruption to sms, mobile and landline services in almost all areas of Australia for almost three hours?

I’m guessing we’ll hear from Telstra in the coming days that it was a very small percentage of their customers – though based on conversations I’ve had today I believe the number to be much higher. No Doubt, not every Telstra customer suffered an outage. But even if it’s 20% of customers, those in Perth, or Hobart, or Brisbane will be demanding to know how this could happen.

EFTM understands the Chatswood exchange where the fire occurred is a significant exchange for Telstra. However, the question over the national effect must be answered.

I think all of Sydney would understand if their services were down after a fire at a major exchange. Deal with it folks would be my response.

But what do we tell the residents of Tasmania, or Western Australia who’s mobiles didn’t work?

The second critical issue for Telstra is the incorrect delivery of SMS messages as services were down and or being restored.

I can understand people losing sms service, and getting a rush of delivered messages in one go – but to the wrong number? This also makes no sense.

Can someone help find the poor folk who are missing out on m&m’s? I feel for them.

Questions for Telstra:

So, as your phones start connecting again, and things get back to normal – Telstra need to explain:

How is it possible that even a percentage of their network outside of Sydney is reliant on a single exchange in Sydney?

Secondly, and just as worryingly, how is it possible that SMS messages were delivered to the incorrect phones?

When considering those questions, I’m drawn back (sadly for Telstra) to the outages of last year – in the main the bulk of the problems from the operator error, undersea cable then Melbourne exchange woes were related to the congestion that Telstra’s core network suffered when their millions of subscribers were disconnected and began attempting to reconnect.

Which begs the third and final question; Was the outage nationally caused by congestion on the core network from the reconnection of services?

It’s quite likely that Perth users were caught up in the congestion as the network attempted to recover.

Likewise, it’s likely that their core database was corrupted in the outage causing the incorrect delivery of text messages.

If the core network does not yet have the ability to recover from “minor” outages – and as a result causes national outages for users – Telstra haven’t improved anything since last year.

We await a detailed explanation.