NSW businesses left without internet after week long Exetel outage: Expert says it’s the worst he’s seen in 21 years

Dominic Powell /

A seven-day long internet outage is affecting numerous New South Wales customers of internet service provider Exetel.

Exetel customer support operators took to the company’s user forums to notify customers of the downtime affecting the company’s fibre and NBN offerings, stating the outage began on November 26.

A number of areas in eastern NSW are listed as affected by the outage, with the customer support operator stating the connectivity issues would affect “most customers” in the listed areas. The areas include Richmond, Vineyard, South Windsor, and more surrounding areas.

Read more: Telstra’s latest outages are harming local businesses: “It’s not just inconvenient because you can’t watch Netflix”

A number of unhappy Exetel users took to Facebook to complain about the extended outage, along with complaints about the company’s customer service.

“I called them yesterday the guy hung up on me after being on hold for 1.5 hours and tried again today got through after 40 minutes and he said there is nothing he can do and no expected fix time,” wrote one customer.

Some customers are business owners using Exetel’s NBN service.

“We have two internet connections with you and both are not working, one being a business. What a great way to treat a loyal customer,” another Exetel user wrote.

Mark Pace, founder of NSW based IT service provider Sterling IT told SmartCompany the outage was the worst he had seen in his 21 years of business.

“This has been an absolute disaster. Never in my 21 years of business have I seen an outage as bad as this,” Pace says.

“The most I’ve ever seen is an outage of two days.”

Pace’s company offers ISP reselling, providing internet connection packages to businesses and other users. Pace had made the decision to stop offering Exetel’s NBN connections, citing the unreliability of the service as the reason.

“We don’t work with Exetel anymore, we cut them off a while ago due to frequent NBN outages like this one,” Pace says.

“We have one client still using Exetel’s NBN service, and we had to switch them to another provider altogether two days ago because we couldn’t risk them continuing to be without internet.”

Pace’s client, who operates in the manufacturing industry, was without internet for four days. At this time, the client was undergoing a sale of business, which Pace says the outage severely hindered.

“In the end, we had to send some emails on their behalf,” he said.

Service yet to be restored

Pace said he contacted Exetel, who assured him the service would be back online on Wednesday afternoon. On the company’s forums, customer service operators advised the connection has yet to be restored, stating, “further investigation is required”.

“Our network supplier advises that the work at the Windsor has been completed. However, further investigation is required as the errors still persists. Supplier could not provide an estimated time of resolution at this moment,” the post reads.

Pace advises businesses to have backup plans for internet outages and stresses the importance of hosting important documents off-site.

“Our client had their emails hosted the on site, which caused most of their issues,” he says.

“Use a service like Office 365 to host them online, so then you can just plug in a 4G router and still get work done.”

A report released by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman earlier this month revealed NBN-related complaints had doubled compared to the 2014-2015 period. Regularly reported complaints covered issues such as delays in network connection and service dropouts.

NBN-related complaints now cover 12% of total complaints to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman.

Exetel told SmartCompany that it understood the outage was caused “by a technical failure between the Windsor and Mascot exchanges”.

“Exetel is working with Telstra to try to re-establish the connection as soon as possible; we aim to have this rectified today and will keep customers updated through our help forum,” it said in a statement.

“Exetel is offering to waive the next monthly service fee for those customers impacted by the outage.”

Dominic Powell

Dominic Powell is the lead reporter at StartupSmart.

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  • Rob

    We have had NBN issues in the past (we don’t use Exetel)… that’s why we have 4G backup connections. It might cost $100-$500 a day in data, but that’s the cost of doing business to make sure you’re online if it’s critical to business.

    • MP

      The issue isnt the backup of 4G for internet, but a public facing IP for incoming SMTP mail server in this case.
      If the emails were external, impact would have been nil with backup service they already had. Though the secondary ISP was blocking port 25 (which is another story)

      • DanR

        You can get a public IP with Telstra 4G on business plans. Its not static, but with a low TTL on your DNS records, it works fine if you have to change it a few times during an outage.

  • Richard

    Get what you pay for I guess.

    • MartyvH

      I pay Exetel $99 a month on NBN, which is paying pretty handsomely. But “better” providers (better is debatable) are only $10 a month more. I don’t live where the outage happened. My connection is very fast and reliable. That’s the thing about Australia’s broadband, the wide variability. Just what the original NBN was designed to prevent, but anyway….

      • Mitchell

        Business and consumer plans should be incomparable. However, the NBN even in its original design was not really suitable for critical business connections, which is why TPG, Optus, Telstra etc. are still running around the country installing their own fibre for different businesses :-/
        Begs the question – if we still need our big four telcos to run fibre for business purposes – what was the purpose of having the Govt build it all anyway?

        I think we should have allowed private fibre builds in the cities, and had regional councils build the rest with Government support. That is the sort of model places like Sweden have, to pretty successful outcomes.

  • Bazza

    Service restored on Friday afternoon.

  • Guest

    Those Exetel Customers who are Complaining via Email or on Facebook seem to have internet access .. Just Saying.

    • Scootros Hootros

      Ever tried running your business website, email and accounts from an iPhone? I guess not. Just sayin’.

    • Simon

      wow the level of stupidity is just stunning

      • TECH

        lol…. they could of been posting from *another* network other than Exetel..

        Wouldn’t matter though.. even if there was any downtime at all people will complain… The difference is worse it gets. This is why i get all up in arms when people like to think we never rely on the internet… Well of course we do, because if u can’t do your business, then u’r relying on someting that you expect to be up 99999.999% of the time.