Terms of Reference - Review into the Optus Outage of 8 November 2023

The Optus outage of 8 November 2023 (the Outage) interrupted critical services for consumers and businesses. It also impacted essential government, public health and safety infrastructure. This is one of a number of outages in recent years that has impacted the Australian public to varying degrees.  Recognising that the operator bears primary responsibility for the functioning of its communications networks, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP, Minister for Communications, has commissioned this Review to uncover the lessons for Government and the telecommunications industry more broadly from recent telecommunications network outages.

The Review will consult widely with industry, consumer and small business stakeholders as well as with Australian Government and state and territory agencies. The Review will provide a report to the Minister for Communications by 29 February 2024.

The Review will report on and make recommendations regarding:

  1. The functioning of Triple Zero during the Outage, including contrasts to other outages, and whether changes are required to:

    1. the technical settings required to ensure the continued access to Triple Zero by users whose network is experiencing outages;
    2. the regulatory settings required to ensure the continued access to Triple Zero by users whose network is experiencing outages;
    3. the circumstances in which other networks may be relied on to support a network that is subject to a major outage; and
    4. the interaction between carriers, carriage service operators, Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs), the Emergency Call Person and other participants in the telecommunications sector to ensure the continued access to Triple Zero by users whose network is experiencing outages (including an examination of existing processes).
  2. The role of Government in managing and responding to national service outages, including but not limited to:
    1. coordination between government agencies at all levels; and
    2. public messaging by government agencies during such outages, and in particular, the Outage.
  3. The adequacy of requirements for customer communication in national service outages.
  4. The adequacy of how customer complaints processes and compensation processes performed for consumers and small business following the outages.
  5. Other telecommunications sector implications, including resilience and interdependencies between telecommunications networks.

Excluded from scope of the Review will be:

  1. The extent to which Optus complied with current regulatory obligations, including the Emergency Call Services Determination. These are matters for the Australian Communications and Media Authority.
  2. The technical causes of the Outage, and the manner in which Optus remediated the Outage. This is a matter for Optus to investigate and report on.
  3. The adequacy of the value of any compensation offered by Optus. In accordance with Terms of Reference 4, this inquiry will focus on the performance of the processes that were available to consumers and small businesses.