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Optus CEO comes under scrutiny for the ‘worst outage’ in Australia’s history

Optus CEO comes under scrutiny for the ‘worst outage’ in Australia’s history
Optus CEO comes under scrutiny for the ‘worst outage’ in Australia’s history

Australian business owners have lashed out at its local telecommunication company Optus, which went off-line on Wednesday for over 13 hours.

Optus is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singaporean telecommunications company Singtel.

As an ‘apology gift,’ Optus promised to give customers on eligible prepaid plans unlimited data on the weekend for the rest of the year. This will kick in on November 18. 

Businesses are still counting the cost of the impact on operations – losing out on a full day’s trade on Wednesday. It hit the hospitality sector hard, with thousands of restaurants using Optus to connect pay points for customers paying digitally. 

The Restaurant and Catering Association of Australia says it greatly affected trade. This industry alone contributes more than $40 billion in retail turnover annually to the country’s economy. 

As an ‘apology gift’ to businesses Optus says: “All businesses are unique and have been impacted in different ways, and we’re here to help. We know this is a busy time of the year for you and your business, so we provide at least 200GB of extra data for each eligible mobile service on your account.”

But for many businesses, this isn’t enough to recoup the tidal wave of lost revenue.

Calls for Optus CEO to step down

Kelly Rosmarin has been at Optus for nearly five years, of which she spent the last three years as CEO.

Just two weeks ago, the company won an award for the fastest average 5G download speed in Australia, according to Opensignal’s latest Mobile Network Experience Report. 

Optus will now face a senate inquiry, where the CEO is expected to be grilled for handling the ‘worst network outages in Australia’s history.’ It affected over 10 million customers and 400,000 businesses without mobile services. It had a massive impact on the economy, specifically business operations. 

Rosmarin has not responded to any media questions yet or offered any public apology or explanation on social media. 

Businesses up in arms

Frustration boiled over on social media this week, with many business owners lashing out at Optus. 

Many businesses are furious about the poor communication during the outage. 

Locate2u CEO Steve Orenstein says this highlights the importance that businesses need backup. If not, they will continue to be threatened by complete shutdown of operations. “If you are a retailer and your customers are paying by credit card, you must have a backup.”

Orenstein advises customers to use an alternative service provider to have an additional SIM card. “It’s worth every money. It’s a critical disaster that happened. This is the problem: they didn’t come out with much information. I’m surprised a business like Optus couldn’t identify the problem quickly.”

About the author

Mia is a multi-award-winning journalist. She has more than 14 years of experience in mainstream media. She's covered many historic moments that happened in Africa and internationally. She has a strong focus on human interest stories, to bring her readers and viewers closer to the topics at hand.

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