Latest outage will hurt Telstra the most – because it’s not average Joe, its the big end of town – EFTM
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Latest outage will hurt Telstra the most – because it’s not average Joe, its the big end of town

Time for answers and perhaps some change at Telstra

I’ve stopped writing about the Telstra outages for the most part – for a couple of reasons which I’ll explain – but on Thursday Telstra has its biggest challenge to date, the big end of town won’t cop an outage the size of the one experiences in Victoria – especially because it happened on the last day of the Financial Year.

So here’s the thing, lets cut Telstra some slack.  We can’t get all up in arms about every little outage.  I contacted Telstra when my wife told me our internet was out.  My initial reaction was “Another outage” but in fact it was a very small isolated thing.  We’ve got to remember every company, every network has and will have outages.

For that reason, we need to be careful to classify “outages” we report into widespread effect on customers vs local issues.

With that said, Thursday’s outage was widespread.  It’s causing issues for “Enterprise” customers of Telstra, and small business.  Part of their Enterprise IP network in Melbourne failed.  There are reports it was related to a broken Fibre connection.  Right now, that’s not relevant.

The impact was huge.  Despite it being a “Victorian” outage, nationally Myer was unable to make EFTPOS transactions.  I suspect that’s because Myer’s network routes itself through Melbourne.  There are also reports of Websites being offline and goodness knows what else.

Unlike the average Joe with a Telstra Mobile, the big end of town will have service level guarantees that will result in big savings on their bills, credits and goodness knows what else.

But it will also have those same companies asking “how the hell did this happen”

Where is the redundancy at Telstra for systems and connectivity failures?

Where is the system that detects issues and re-routes traffic around issues and failures.

The big end of town won’t cop a “re-allocation” of Capital expenditure.  At a time when Telstra is focussing on handing back $1.5 billion – b for billion dollars to Shareholders as an additional dividend – it just doesn’t add up.

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What Andy Penn the CEO of Telstra needs to announce is a shake up in their network management team.  “Heads must roll” is the phrase, and whether it’s the bloke who plugged the wrong thing in back in February or the head of their network team – surely he needs to be seen to be taking these multiple and vastly different outages seriously from the top.

Telstra must also announce a focus on the network, not the shareholders.  Here’s the fundamental problem with publicly listed companies – they just have to please investors and the share market with the hope of a lift in their value.  Take a break from that and just focus on the customers for 18 months.

When Vodafone suffered horrendous issues with their Mobile Network many years back, $3billion was spent to fix it.  Telstra needs to peg a number like that to their core network.

There is no data on how many if any customers are leaving Telstra as a result of the issues they’ve had.  Frankly, it’s unlikely to be a blip on the radar – Australian consumers are too bloody loyal – perhaps more importantly the thing for Telstra is that this is not a continual issue with the Mobile Network.  It’s not a continual issue with their ADSL customers. It’s not a continual issue for their NBN customers.  It’s not a continual issue for their Business Customers.

But surely, the very fact that all those customer groups have been affected means that Telstra must announce a higher percentage of Capital Expenditure for the 16/17 Financial Year.

On March 17, I posed three questions here at EFTM to Telstra CEO Andy Penn.  The very same questions are valid still today.  Which itself is a major concern.

CEO Andy Penn needs to step in and demand some serious answers.  No point throwing an engineer under the bus this time.

  • Why is their network no longer as resilient as their reputation has suggested?
  • Why is there no redundancy in the network to work around such failures?
  • Why on earth does it take so long to restore services in the network?

Let’s see what the corporate customers say about this latest issue for Telstra.

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Tech

Trevor produces two of the most popular technology podcasts in Australia, Your Tech Life and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He has a weekly radio show on 2UE, as well as appearances across the country and regularly provides Technology Commentary to Channel 9’s Today Show and A Current Affair. Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave. Like this post? Buy Trev a drink!
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