Singtel Optus Pty Limited
Company typeSubsidiary
IndustryTelecommunications
Founded1981; 43 years ago (1981)
(as AUSSAT)
HeadquartersMacquarie Park, New South Wales, Australia
Area served
Australia
Key people
ProductsFixed telephony
Mobile telephony
Internet access
Cable television
Leased lines
Data transmission
RevenueIncrease A$8.05 billion (2023)[1]
Increase A$2.09 billion (2023)[1]
Increase A$286 million (2023)[1]
OwnerSingtel (100%)[2][3][4]
Number of employees
~7,000 (2022)[5]
DivisionsOptus Sport
Amaysim
Websiteoptus.com.au

Singtel Optus Pty Limited (commonly referred to as Optus) is an Australian telecommunications company headquartered in Macquarie Park, a suburb in the Northern Sydney region of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of Singaporean telecommunications company Singtel.

Optus is the second-largest wireless carrier in Australia, with over 10 million subscribers as of 2022, and its mobile network covers 98.5% of the Australian population.[5][6]

History

AUSSAT and deregulation (1981–1990)

Optus can trace its beginnings back to the formation of the Government-owned AUSSAT Pty Limited in 1981. In 1982, Aussat selected the Hughes 376 for their initial satellites, with the first, AUSSAT A1, launched in August 1985.[7] AUSSAT satellites were used for both military and civilian satellite communications, and delivering television services to remote outback communities.

See also: Optus fleet of satellites

With Aussat operating at a loss and with moves to deregulate telecommunications in Australia, the government decided to sell Aussat, coupled with a telecommunications licence. The licence was sold to Optus Communications – a consortium including:[8]

The new telecommunications company was designed to provide competition to then government owned telecommunications company Telecom Australia, now known as Telstra.

Founding of Optus (1991–present)

Original 1990s logo

Optus gained the second general carrier licence in January 1991.[10]

After privatisation, AUSSAT became Optus and its first offering to the general public was to offer long-distance calls at cheaper rates than that of its competitor Telstra. The long-distance calling rates on offer were initially available by consumers dialing 1 before the area code and phone number. Following this, a ballot process was conducted by then regulator AUSTEL, with customers choosing their default long-distance carrier.[11] Customers who made no choice or did not respond to the mailout campaign automatically remained as a Telstra long-distance customer. Customers who remained with Telstra could dial the override code of 1456 before the area code and phone number to manually select Optus as the carrier for that single call. Since 1 July 1998, consumers have the choice of preselecting their preferred long-distance carrier or dialling the override code before dialling a telephone number.

The group began by building an interstate fibre optic cable and a series of exchanges between Optus' interstate network and Telstra's local network. It also laid fibre optics into major office buildings and industrial areas, and focused on high bandwidth local, (interstate) long distance, and interstate calls for business. In its early years, Optus was only able to offer local and long-distance calls to residential customers through Telstra's local phone network. Telstra would carry residential to residential calls to Optus' exchanges, and then the calls would be switched to Optus' long-distance fibre optic network.

Optus was the main sponsor of the 1997 ARL season.[citation needed]

Incidents

2022 cyberattack

Main article: 2022 Optus data breach

Around 22 September 2022, Optus systems sustained a significant cyberattack that resulted in a major data breach of both current and former customers' personal information, including customers’ names, dates of birth, phone numbers and email addresses, with a smaller subset of customers having their street addresses, driving licence details and passport numbers leaked. Optus CEO Kelly Bayer Rosmarin urged customers to exercise "heightened awareness" regarding transactions with their Optus and other accounts. Rosmarin emphasised that passwords were not compromised.[12][13] The CEO said that the "worst-case scenario" regarding the number of customers whose data had been leaked was 9.8 million customers, but believes the actual number to be far lower.[14]

On 24 September 2022, Australian news outlets The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Optus was investigating the authenticity of a ransom demand of US$1 million made on a hacking forum. The demand gave Optus one week to pay the ransom in cryptocurrency else the data will be sold for US$300,000 to whoever else wants it.[15]

On 6 October, the Australian Federal Police announced the arrest of a 19-year-old man who had allegedly threatened 93 Optus customers by saying that he would use their information leaked in the attack to commit financial crimes, unless they paid AUD $2,000.[16][17]

In response to the cyberattack, the Australian federal government announced emergency regulation on 6 October, in the form of a 12-month amendment to the Telecommunications Regulations 2021 to "enable telecommunications companies to temporarily share approved government identifier information with regulated financial services entities."[18][19][20]

On 11 October, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner launched an investigation, the aim of which is to explore the company's handling of customers' data.[21]

2023 nationwide outage

Main article: 2023 Optus outage

Early on 8 November 2023, an undetermined issue caused a nationwide outage in Optus Mobile and Fixed Internet services. The outage directly impacted more than 10 million customers, including government services, hospitals and businesses. Optus Mobile customers reported that their phones showed 'SOS' on the signal indicator, which is a sign the regular network is down, but mobile phones still have access to alternate networks in the event of an emergency call by using a so-called camping mechanism; however, Optus landlines were unable to make emergency triple-zero calls.[22][23] The outage affected the communication systems for Melbourne's train network, so for safety reasons the whole network was halted until backup communications commenced, leading to major delays and cancellations throughout the day.[24][25][26] [27]

Corporate affairs

Chief Executive Officer

Kelly Bayer Rosmarin commenced as CEO of Optus and Consumer Australia on 1 April 2020. She resigned on 20 November 2023.[28]

The hybrid fibre-coax rollout

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Former Optus building in Adelaide, South Australia

These practices meant that Optus was the largest customer of Telstra. To become competitive Optus would need to lay its own local phone network. To provide a killer application for this, the Australian Federal government sold subscription television licences. Optus, as well as the Seven Network, businessman Kerry Stokes and American cable company Cablevision, formed the Optus Vision consortium. News Corporation and Telstra created the rival Foxtel consortium.

Telstra's local phone network did not have the capability to deliver Foxtel pay television to consumers in the early 1990s, so Telstra identified a need to create a broadband network to support this new product.

As Telstra and Optus could not agree on terms for a joint broadband cable roll out, they laid two competing cable networks, in addition to Telstra's existing copper network, at a combined cost estimated of over A$6bn.

Whilst Telstra focused on creating a broadband network specifically for broadcast, Optus designed their cable network to provide telephony services in addition to broadcast television.

Optus is no longer a customer of Telstra's after deciding to move the funding used to lease Telstra's copper network into constructing their hybrid fibre-coaxial network, the first in Australia.

Takeovers

Cable & Wireless with 24.5% stakeholder bought out BellSouth's equal 24.5% shareholding in July 1997.[29] The company returned to profitability in 1998 and changed its name to Cable & Wireless Optus.[30] Government relaxation of foreign ownership restrictions paved the way for the company to be floated - with Cable and Wireless increasing its holding to 52.5%)[31][32] - and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange on 17 November 1998.[33]

During 2001, Singtel launched a takeover bid for Cable and Wireless Optus[34] which was ultimately successful[35] and the company became known as Singtel Optus.

In May 2004, Optus announced a $226.8 million bid for UEComm.[36] The takeover was approved in July[37] and completed in August.[38]

In July 2005, Optus announced it would acquire Alphawest Ltd. for A$25.9 million.[39] The buyout was completed in November 2005 and Alphawest is now an operating division of Optus Business.

On 12 January 2006, Optus acquired the remaining 74.15% of Virgin Mobile Australia for U$22.6 m, giving it 100% ownership.

OptusNet

OptusNet logo

Optus Communications offered its first business-focused internet products in 1998 under the OptusNet product family, offering in-house developed dial-up and high-speed services. Optus purchased one of Australia's pioneer ISPs, Microplex, in 1998 to provide consumer dial-up internet services.[40][41] Separate to this, under the Optus Vision brand, a cable broadband arm began as a joint venture with U.S. cable and content provider Excite@Home and was known as Optus@Home from its introduction in 1999[42] until it was renamed in 2002.[43] ADSL services were offered from February 2004.[44] ADSL2+ services were provided from December 2005.[45]

OPEL Networks

Logo used until mid-2013

Main article: OPEL Networks

In June 2007, joint venture subsidiary OPEL Networks was awarded government funding towards the cost of building a regional broadband network. Optus was to be contracted to build the network on behalf of OPEL.[46][47]

In April 2008, after a change of the Federal Government from the Liberal Party of Australia coalition to the Australian Labor Party, the new government terminated the funding agreement and the project was halted, with its functions to be replaced by the National Broadband Network.

Terria

Main article: Terria (consortium)

Optus is part of a consortium – now known as Terria – that in July 2006 announced their intention to make a combined bid to build the proposed National Broadband Network.[48]

Products and services

Optus' Queensland head office, in Fortitude Valley

Optus's Customer Solutions and Services (CS&S) organisation is responsible for providing support to Optus Business customers. CS&S works with Optus' subsidiary Alphawest to support information technology services across Optus' large business, corporate and government[49] client base.

Retail services are sold to customers via phone, internet or through retail outlets, especially franchise chains such as Optus World, Network Communications, Strathfield, TeleChoice, and Allphones.

Key Optus products and services include:

Voice

Wireless

Internet access

Television

Subsidiaries

This section needs to be updated. Please help update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (June 2023)

A number of notable wholly owned subsidiaries operate as part of the Singtel Optus group. These are:

Until 20 January 2013, Optus sold mobile services under the brand name Boost Mobile.[52]

Optus also has a 50% stake in the now defunct OPEL Networks.[46]

Other wholly owned subsidiaries of note no longer have a significant active role as individual entities. These are as follows:

Reef Networks was formed in 1999 to provide an optical fibre link between Brisbane and Cairns in Queensland. Optus gained exclusive access to this link in 2001, ahead of acquiring the organisation in 2005.[53]

XYZed was established by Optus in 2000 to provide wholesale business-grade DSL services under an individual brand, but today provides a collection of products only as part of the Optus Wholesale & Satellite division. XYZed established a network of DSLAMs inside Telstra telephone exchanges, utilising Unconditioned Local Loop services to reach end users.[54]

Infrastructure

Optus' fully owned network infrastructure consists of the following:[55][56]

Network backbone

Customer access network

See also: Access network

OptusNet also provides Cable internet. In August 2010, OptusNet released an upgrade of its HFC network to the DOCSIS 3.0 standard,[57] which enabled customers to access a maximum theoretical downstream bandwidth of 100 Megabits. OptusNet is also one of the few ISPs in Australia to currently provide ADSL2+ via its own DSLAMs, which it also resells to other ISPs.[58]

Mobile network

Mobile network equipment is from Nortel, Nokia and Huawei and antennas are sourced from Andrews, RFS, Argus and Kathrein.[citation needed]

The Optus network operates on the following bandwidth frequencies across Australia:

The 2G GSM 900/1800 MHz network was terminated on 3 April 2017 in Western Australia and Northern Territory.[62] 2G GSM was completely terminated on 1 August 2017 when 2G was disconnected in Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Queensland, Tasmania and South Australia. To remain connected, a device that is capable of running 3G at 900 MHz is now required after 2G was completely disconnected across Australia.

Partly owned infrastructure

Part-owned network infrastructure includes:

Advertising and sponsorship

Optus has naming rights to Perth Stadium where it is known as Optus Stadium

Between 1994 and 2005 Optus had the naming rights to the Carlton football clubs original home ground in Princes Park. It was called Optus Oval until the ground was retired by the AFL in 2005

In 2016, Optus signed a 10-year partnership agreement with the Australian Olympic Committee to be the official partner of the Australian Olympic Team and the Australian Paralympic Team until 2026.[65]

In 2017, Optus won naming rights to Perth Stadium where it would be known as Optus Stadium. Optus and the Government of Western Australia agreed to a 10-year naming right worth approximately A$50 million.[66]

Optus also has a long-term partnership with the Adelaide Crows in the AFL. Optus has been a partner of the Collingwood Magpies in the AFL Women's since 2018.[67]

Optus is the current major sponsor for the No. 25 Walkinshaw Andretti United Holden ZB Commodore driven by Chaz Mostert[68]

Outsourcing

Since 2005, Optus has outsourced some customer service functions to Concentrix and 247.ai, with the outsourcer providing 800 staff operating offshore in India, supplementing Optus' 3,000-plus onshore call centre staff.[69] Some functions have also been supplemented in the Philippines.[70] Optus also uses 24/7 Inc. for telephone & chat based offshore support.

In October 2006, Optus announced that it would outsource 100 contracting jobs to another Singtel subsidiary, IT company NCS, in Singapore.[71]

Achievement and Rewards

Rewards
2014 Canstar Blue Awards: Most Satisfied Customers 2014 Award in the small business mobile phone service providers category.
2015 Canstar Blue Awards: Most Satisfied Customers 2015 Award in the small business mobile phone service providers category.
2016 Global Carrier Award: Best Asian Wholesale Carrier Award
2017 Arcstar Carrier Forum: Operations and Maintenance Award

Global Telcom Awards: AI Initiative of the year

2018 World Communication Awards: Best Wholesale Operator

Asia Communications Awards: Wholesale Operator of the Year

Annual MVNOs World Congress: Most Innovative Wholesaler & People's Choice

See also

References

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