Telstra outage 2.0 leads to another free data day

Roughly 8 million Australians were left without service as Telstra faced network issues for the second time in two months. The telco was so "deeply disappointed" that they're giving you free data...again.

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Claire Reilly was a video host, journalist and producer covering all things space, futurism, science and culture. Whether she's covering breaking news, explaining complex science topics or exploring the weirder sides of tech culture, Claire gets to the heart of why technology matters to everyone. She's been a regular commentator on broadcast news, and in her spare time, she's a cabaret enthusiast, Simpsons aficionado and closet country music lover. She originally hails from Sydney but now calls San Francisco home.
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Claire Reilly
2 min read

A massive, nation-wide outage has hit Telstra for the second time in as many months, leaving the telco red-faced and on the back foot defending its network. But in a bid to keep customers onside, Telstra will once again offer a free data day to make up for the network failure.

The problem affected roughly 8 million people -- half of Telstra's mobile customers -- who were unable to make calls because of congestion on the network. Telstra says the problem was first identified at 6 p.m. yesterday, and that customers started to be reconnected within 2 hours, with full service returning by 10 p.m.

It's bad timing for Australia's biggest mobile communications company, coming just a month after another major outage on its network. The February 8 outage was caused by what Telstra called an "embarrassing human error" that knocked one of the company's mobile nodes offline, forcing mobile customers off the network and generating massive congestion when those users attempted to reconnect.

While Telstra CEO Andy Penn says the cause of yesterday's outage was "unrelated" to last month's problems, it's still not a good look for a company that prides itself on offering its customers "world class technology and the best telecommunications networks."

"We are still investigating how the service disruption occurred, but our early findings show we had a problem that triggered a significant number of customers to be disconnected from the network, and as they were all automatically reconnecting at the same time, this caused congestion," said Penn in a statement.

"I am very sorry and deeply disappointed this happened."

Although the issue flared up and died down in a matter of hours, Telstra is hoping to mend hurt feelings with its customers by offering them a whole day of free data on April 3.

As with the peace offering made after last month's outage, Telstra mobile customers won't need to do anything to take advantage of the free data -- it will automatically be applied to all accounts for a full Sunday of use.

It has left us wondering whether this will become the expectation when a network goes down in future, and whether telcos will continue to offer full free data days in return for outages of a few hours.

But customers won't be complaining when they're streaming up a storm on their mobile or tethering all their devices in the house to one hard-working little smartphone.

In that spirit, why not check out CNET's advice for what to do when you get a massive data windfall like the one Telstra is offering. TL;DR? Download everything!