It may take three men to change a lightbulb, but apparently it only takes one to bring down the services of a billion dollar company. Recently, Telstra experienced an extensive network outage for several hours. The outage disturbed 16.7 million of Telstra’s 3G and 4G services resulting in millions of Telstra’s customers unable to make phone calls. Let what happened to Telstra be a message about the importance of training your staff, and ensuring that important processes are cross-checked.

What happened?

You would think that it would take some big, unprecedented technological meltdown for Australia’s largest telecommunication to not be able to provide telecommunication. In fact it was simple human error; something that could happen to any business, big or small. The outage occurred after a Telstra manager reconnected a server to a malfunctioning connection point rather than connecting it to the nine other functional servers.

The CEO of Telstra Kate McKenzie conceded that “the correct procedure was unfortunately not followed”. As a result, concerns arise over how well employees within the company are trained. It is essential that you never ask your employees to complete a task that their experience or employee training has not covered. However, it is safe to assume that a multibillion dollar company would ensure their employee has extensive training and knowledge before it asks them to complete a task that could jeopardise their business operations. This brings another issue into question: Telstra’s seemingly absent cross-checking mechanisms. Whenever your business undertakes an important task it should assign multiple employees, it should have a feedback loop, and it should trial or preview any changes before making them ‘live’. In essence, this means if a task could have a big impact on your customers, employees, or services, you should implement some safeguards. Using a legal document, such as a Performance Management Policy or an Employment Agreement, can be an important tool for outlining employees responsibilities and tasks, and can ensure that what happened to Telstra does not happen to your business.

Did the Telstra outage affect you?

Were you one of the Telstra customers unable to make calls? Well… Telstra has announced that it will provide all of its customers with free data on the Sunday following the incident. But is there more you can bargain out of Telstra? After being flooded with complaints, the company announced that it was willing to compensate customers for the lost connectivity. With millions of dollars expected to be lost in damage control, the company announced that there will be a full investigation and hopefully a reform of procedure.

Let us know your thoughts on the Telstra outage by tagging us #lawpath or @lawpath.

Anthony Guerrieri

Anthony is a Paralegal working in our content team, which writes free legal guides aimed at improving public awareness of legal and business issues. Anthony has an interest in simplifying complex legal problems in order to allow people to understand their legal dilemmas.