In today’s interconnected world, businesses heavily rely on telecommunications services to operate smoothly and efficiently. However, when an outage occurs, it can cause major disruptions that affect not only the businesses themselves but also their customers. Such was the case when the Optus network experienced a 13-hour service interruption on Thursday, November 9.
Although businesses that don’t depend on the Optus network were largely unaffected by the outage, those with customers who rely on Optus services experienced significant challenges. Rosedale Pharmacy in Gippsland, for example, found itself in a precarious position. While the pharmacy’s internet connection was with Telstra, customers who were on Optus couldn’t pay for their prescriptions or access their electronic prescriptions, causing inconvenience and potential health risks.
To alleviate the situation, Rosedale Pharmacy attempted to hotspot Optus-affected customers to non-Optus-connected smartphones owned by staff members. This solution allowed customers to download their scripts and receive the necessary medications. However, staff members who were themselves connected to Optus were unable to assist in this way.
The impact of the Optus outage reached beyond the pharmacy itself. Delivery services were disrupted, making it difficult to contact hospitals for new prescriptions or communicate with doctors. Patients expecting deliveries were left uncertain about the status of their orders. The ripple effects were felt not only in Rosedale but also in neighboring areas like Heyfield, where many customers reside.
Despite the challenges, the Rosedale Pharmacy staff received appreciation and cooperation from customers, highlighting the strength of the community. However, the incident raises broader questions about the potential risks of relying solely on electronic transactions in an increasingly cashless society.
While telecommunications outages are beyond the control of individual businesses, there are measures they can take to mitigate the impact:
1. Diversify Telecommunications Providers: By having multiple providers, businesses can reduce the chances of a complete service disruption.
2. Backup Communication Channels: Maintaining alternative communication channels, such as landline phones or backup internet connections, can ensure continued operations during outages.
3. Develop Contingency Plans: Businesses should have clear contingency plans in place to address disruptions. This includes identifying alternative ways to serve customers and ensuring a seamless transition during outages.
4. Communicate with Customers: Keeping customers informed about the situation and any alternative arrangements in place during an outage can help manage expectations and maintain trust.
Telecommunications outages can be unexpected and disruptive, but with proper preparation and flexibility, businesses can navigate these challenges and minimize the impact on their operations and customer experience.
How long did the Optus outage last?
The Optus network experienced a service interruption for approximately 13 hours on Thursday, November 9.
How did the Rosedale Pharmacy handle the Optus outage?
Rosedale Pharmacy attempted to assist Optus-affected customers by hotspotting their devices to non-Optus-connected smartphones owned by staff members. This allowed customers to download their prescriptions and receive necessary medications.
What were the broader implications of the outage?
Apart from the immediate impact on the pharmacy and its customers, the outage disrupted delivery services and hindered communication with hospitals and doctors, affecting the wider community.
What can businesses do to mitigate the impact of telecommunications outages?
Businesses can take measures such as diversifying telecommunications providers, maintaining backup communication channels, developing contingency plans, and effectively communicating with customers to minimize the impact of outages.