Telstra says system shutdown was due to 'embarrassing human error'

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Telstra customers across Australia were unable to make or receive calls for two hours on Tuesday afternoon due to an “embarrassing human error”, the company has said.

The systems failure meant customers nationwide were unable to access some services, with a third-party map showing its impact in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth.

A Telstra spokesman confirmed that the failure began at about 12.30pm AEDT and prevented customers from making and receiving calls. Data usage was affected for only a short period.

Full services were restored by about 2.30pm.

Chief operations officer Kate McKenzie told Nine News the failure was an “embarrassing human error” after a node, which manages network traffic, malfunctioned on Tuesday morning.

A Telstra spokesman told Guardian Australia 10 nodes were subsequently taken out of action when no more than four can be taken down without affecting services.

“A lot more than that were worked on this morning ... which is human error.”

He said an investigation into how the problem occured was under way, and Telstra intended to offer customers free data to compensate for the inconvenience.

Police and emergency services advised at the time of the failure that triple zero calls were not likely to be affected.

Just before 3pm the company reported that the problem had been identified and services were gradually being restored.

Until then Telstra’s communications staff had their work cut out tweeting at irate Twitter users to thank them for their patience.

One employee, Dani, valiantly tried to keep pace with Twitter users’ helpful suggestions to try “turning it off and on again”.

The shutdown also led this promotional image, from Telstra’s Facebook page, to resurface.

According to Twitter, the effects of the outage were wide-ranging and of variable consequence. © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010