Telstra has admitted that the widespread network problems that knocked out its mobile voice and data networks on Tuesday were the result of human error.
The problem, which began at 12.25pm and hit 3G and 4G customers nationally, was due to problems with one of Telstra's signalling nodes – part of a pool of 10 across the country.
Telstra chief operating officer Kate McKenzie told 702 ABC Sydney radio: "A node was taken down around lunchtime today because it wasn't performing correctly. Unfortunately the individual who did that did not follow the correct procedures and restarted the malfunctioning node before he had transferred the customers. That then caused severe congestion across the remaining nodes and the resultant difficulties for our customers."
The outage, which did not affect SMS messages, continued for hours as the telco battled to regain services for outraged customers, who took to social media to slam the carrier.
"We are incredibly disappointed about this," said McKenzie. "It is not OK and I just want to apologise to everybody who suffered inconvenience as a result. We will be looking to provide some free data to our customers just as a gesture and recompense for the inconvenience we caused today."
She added that Telstra was still "working through the detail" of how the compensation would work.
McKenzie would not be drawn on the number of customers affected, however, website aussieoutages.com tracked a high of 4,663 reports during the outage.
The outage came just a day after the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman released a report that rival carrier Optus had received the most complaints for the quarter ending 31 December.