‘Deeply Sorry’ Telstra To Give Away Unlimited Mobile Data This Sunday

‘Deeply Sorry’ Telstra To Give Away Unlimited Mobile Data This Sunday

Yesterday afternoon, Telstra suffered a massive outage across its 3G and 4G networks which left thousands of people without mobile phone coverage. The telco has since issued an apology along with a promise of “free data” for all Telstra Mobile customers. Here are the details.

Telstra has announced it will give away free data this Sunday (14 February) as compensation for Tuesday’s mass outage. The free data will be offered to all Telstra Mobile customers with any excess data usage automatically deducted from users’ bills.

“While the outage was short in duration we fully realise the impact it had on our customers, which is why we are offering all of our customers a day of free mobile data this Sunday,” Telstra explained in a statement.

To receive the free data, customers are not required to do anything — instead, the telco will automatically switch off data billing for every mobile customer (no word on whether this includes resellers like Boost Mobile.) Normal billing will resume on Monday 15 February.

The country-wide outage was reportedly caused by a network core switch restart following technical issues with a major connection point in the network. This resulted in significant congestion across the mobile network and problems with customers’ mobile voice and data nationally.

Telstra’s chief operations officer Kate McKenzie said she was “incredibly disappointed the outage occurred and deeply sorry for the inconvenience we caused.”

A free day of unlimited mobile data sounds like a pretty fun challenge to us. You could see how many Netflix series you can binge-watch over LTE in 24 hours. Or maybe go on a free app downloading frenzy with your phone’s WiFi disabled. Or keep refreshing Lifehacker every second. Might as well get your money’s worth, eh?

On the downside, we suspect there will be a lot of congestion on Telstra’s network come Sunday due to a spike in usage. Ironically, this makeup gift could end up causing more complaints than the original outage. Whoops.

Meanwhile, upstart rival Kogan Mobile has slashed 70 per cent off its 30-day prepaid mobile plans in the wake of the Telstra snafu. (Story here.)

“Need a reliable network? Kogan Mobile is firing on all cylinders and currently has a 70% Off promo,” Ruslan Kogan teased via Twitter. Cheeky.

[Via Telstra]


  • I was thinking the same as you. They apologise for their service going down, by giving everyone free data which may lead to their service going down again.

    • Unless it’s actually a cunning ploy to stress-test the fix for whatever the original issue was, in which case well played.
      … But from my limited experience with Telstra, that sounds a bit too much like smart business practice.

      • The original issue, had you read the report, was that someone restarted a switch before the data it was carrying was switched to the backups. Not sure how giving free data could test this.

        • I admit it’s extremely unlikely, but still…

          “The outage was triggered when one of these nodes [equipment that essentially manage the flow of voice and data traffic] experienced a technical fault and was taken offline to fix.”

          If I fixed a fault in a load-balancing router (which may or may not have been triggered by heavy load), the first thing I’d want to do is try and recreate the conditions (or worse) when it failed. YMMV.

    • Why would it cause the network to go down again? The network in the capitals is at capacity most of the time already. The network is designed to operate at a particular capacity. Once that capacity is reached that’s all there is and everyone get’s slower speed.

      Normal usage doesn’t cause an outage. A fault with the network causes an outage.

      • Normal usage does’t, but “hey download as much crap as you want for free” on a network faster than many people’s home internet connection might take it to its full capacity the whole time, which, if it stops people making calls, is essentially the same thing as going down again.

  • As one of the people who work on Sundays keeping planes in the air, I really hope that people’s greed won’t cause too much data congestion.

    Sorry in advance to anyone who is flying and hit with lengthy delays.

  • Telstra have stated ” The outage was triggered when one of these nodes experienced a technical fault and was taken offline to fix. This normally wouldn’t impact services as we have processes in place to make sure any customers currently connected to a node are transferred to another node before it is taken offline. Unfortunately on this occasion the right procedures were not followed and this resulted in customers being disconnected and consequent heavy congestion on other nodes as customers attempted to reconnect to the network. ”

    The reality is regardless of whether the users were gracefully migrated prior to taking the node out of service or the node had an outright failure, in a correctly designed network, the remaining pool of nodes should be able to accommodate for the restoration. Someone has a lot of explaining to do.

    This potential catastrophe is well documented by mobile vendors such as Alcatel Lucent/Nokia and Ericsson with articles such as “A signalling storm is gathering – Is your network ready?” or “LTE signalling – Preventing attach storms” . Furthermore, the 3GPP CT4 working group implemented changes to Core Network and Terminal Restoration Procedure technical specifications in September of 2011. These updated procedures ensured that the subscriber and the mobile device were reachable, even after an MME node failure. Prior to release 10.5 In case of MME/S40SGSN failure, the user’s session would immediately drop and the service would terminate.

    Before an LTE service could resume, the user must initiate a procedure so that the device can reattach itself to the network (e.g. service request, tracking area update). This could generate an “attach storm” with potentially thousands of LTE subscribers assigned to the failed node simultaneously signaling the network to reattach.

    Vendors have additional methodologies for managing signalling in their EPC (Evolve Packet Core) Eg Alcatel Lucent introduces the concept of a Session Restoration Server. Normally, in the case of a node failure, the attached subscriber sessions are considered stale and purged. It is only when the user reconnects to the network that the contextual data about the user is relearned. In the event of a node failure the session restoration server stores key attributes allowing the remaining nodes in the pool to immediately retrieve information about the subscriber which eliminates the need for the subscriber to reattach to the network.

    The bottom line is, you can’t blame one guy for bad network design. There are mechanisms available to detect and suppress network storms, loops and so forth. There are mechanisms in place to monitor measure and minimise the signalling traffic that can lead to this type of collapse. And the last line of defence is peer review, surely when you are taking of 1 of 9 critical national nodes offline you have someone watching what just for good measure. Are you telling me Telstra does mission critical changes in the middle of the day and there is only 1 set of eyes watching what’s going on? Bullcrap. All of that said, even if the network engineer plugs everything in upside down, the network should auto shut down the offending elements. There should never be a situation where 1 engineer can cause tear down of the entire National Network, that’s just crazy talk.

  • I don’t get this.

    “The free data will be offered to all Telstra Mobile customers with any incurred data usage automatically deducted from users’ bills”

    If its’s free data, why would the data be deducted from users bills. I thought the whole point was that it ISN”T deducted from users bills.

    • All of the data you use on Sunday won’t count towards your monthly bill. The excess data won’t literally be deducted, but it amounts to the same thing.

    • I think it’s their way of avoiding people, like me, who have a telstra starter sim that ran out and I haven’t recharged (nor will I) from popping it in an leeching free data. Since I have no credit/amount to deduct from, it won’t work….unfortunately.

  • I am going to throw it out there… I have an iPad/4g (lets say connected via USB), Mobile Phone/4g (connected via USB), WiFi hotspot/4g (connected via WiFi) and throw in Speedify.com… this could be a fun little challenge.

  • I rely on mobile for both phone and net in our country location for my home and work. About 3 times per year we get an outage for 4-6 days (Local mobile base station usually struck by lightning I am told) – Telsta/bigpond don’t bother giving me and all the other affected local people anything to make up for this.

    • Lightning is totally un preventable and unpredictable so no compensation is required, lets toughen up a little ladies.

  • Me thinks you should google how DDOS attacks work.

    This could well be a sanctioned denial of service attack on Telstra.

  • I don’t like the way this is worded, about being deducted from monthly bills… what if your plan includes “free” data? Does that mean you’ll use up all your free amounts before you can use the “free Sunday” data?

  • So, if all Telstra users try to connect and use free data this Sunday, and we can’t get on because the network is congested, will Telstra apologise again and offer customers another day of free data? #infiniteLoopOfFreeTelstraData

  • Cool, considering I pay something around $250 for 42GB of data on 4G every month for home internet, I could actually get a reasonable amount of usage for that amount this month

    • Holy SH*T, $250 dollars?
      That’s a lot for 45GB of data.

      That’s how Telstra rip off their customers.
      Why don’t you go with NBN or ADSL or something?

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