Telstra CEO Andy Penn apologises again after another catastrophic failure

Jetstar had to delay flights after its check-in system failed because of the Telstra exchange fire. Photo: Getty Images

A fire at a Telstra exchange in Chatswood, in Sydney’s north, disrupted communications across Australia today in another embarrassing failure for the country’s largest telco.

Government departments, transport and other businesses were affected, with Jetstar delaying several flights and train commuters north of Sydney forced onto buses as a result.

The fire also meant thousands of text messages were sent to random numbers rather than the intended recipients, so the telco shut down its SMS system until it had the situation under control.

Telstra CEO Andy Penn held a media conference to apologise, describing the messages sent to the wrong numbers as “extraordinarily unusual”.

“I’ve never known that to happen before,” he said.

“Some SMS messages were corrupted, which resulted in potentially some of those going to the incorrect address.”

He said the system was shut to “safeguard our customers’ privacy”.

“It’s very disappointing for our customers, I just want to just acknowledge the impact that would have had on a number of our customers and apologise for that,” he said.

The website reported problems in various state capitals, including Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide.

People complained that NBN connections, landline and mobile services, including SMS, failed.

The problems reported on the Aussieoutages site. Source:

The problems also hit discount airline Jetstar, forcing them to manually check in customers, with at least nine flights delayed.

With the day’s other big news being the phone call between Donald Trump and prime minister Malcolm Turnbull which ended prematurely, some people began to wonder:

But the latest outage from Telstra, following a series of disastrous network failures last year that led Penn to pledge to improve things, but customers were left exasperated again today.

Others found humour amid their frustrations: