Nokia guru to solve Optus woes

The nation's number two telco Optus has flown in a technical guru from its equipment supplier Nokia in Finland to get to the bottom of embarrassing network outages that knocked customers offline along Australia's east coast last week.

The nation's number two telco Optus has flown in a technical guru from its equipment supplier Nokia in Finland to get to the bottom of embarrassing network outages that knocked customers offline along Australia's east coast last week.

The telco this week revealed details of its cry for help in a letter to customers, seen by ZDNet.com.au.

Leaked letter ... click for full details

When ZDNet.com.au called Optus on Monday about the outage last Friday which affected 3G data in Melbourne, NSW, the ACT and Queensland as well as voice services in parts of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, an Optus spokesperson said the company had no idea as yet of what the root cause of the outage was, except that it had been a software issue with its mobile platform.

However behind the scenes, the telco had sent its customers a letter explaining in some detail what the telco believed occurred and the steps it had taken to deal with the problem, including rolling back network upgrades and flying in help from network vendor Nokia.

An Optus spokesperson confirmed the letter was bona fide and that its information was correct, although it did not detail all of the happenings on Friday, when no less than three problems hit the carrier's network.

First glitch: On Friday morning at approximately 10.30am, Optus 3G data services in Melbourne's CBD failed due to a media gateway problem. Service was restored at around 3.30pm.

Second glitch: On Friday at around lunch time the company had a voice call set-up failure on its mobile network in pockets of Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.

This was caused by a new overload function introduced into the mobile switch as part of Optus' network upgrade. It behaved unexpectedly, cutting in when it shouldn't have, affecting the traffic handling capability of the mobile switches.

According to Optus, these services were restored progressively from approximately 7.00pm on Friday with full voice restoration at around 7.45pm.

Third glitch: At the same time, a network transmission problem reared its head, affecting 3G data services across NSW, Queensland and the ACT. These services were restored early on Saturday morning at around 4.45am.

"The problems referred to in this letter only refer to the voice call set-up failure and 3G data services which began on Friday afternoon as the earlier incident only affected 3G data services in Melbourne CBD," the spokesperson said.

The carrier had known what the three individual issues were, according to the spokesperson, but it didn't know what had caused them. "For anything like this, there has to be a root cause," the spokesperson said.

Optus has looked to mobile partner Nokia to find the root cause, flying in an expert from Finland. The spokesperson could not say whether the expert had arrived or begun work yet.

Are you still having problems with your Optus services? Drop ZDNet.com.au a line.