What can I do in an internet outage?

23 September 2016

"Internet outage" is a phrase that most would prefer to never hear. We've become so reliant on connectivity that we can't even fathom not being online. Unfortunately, your internet can and will go down from time to time. If this happens, here's what you should do.

Make sure it's actually an outage first

If you find yourself without internet, it's worth trying to ascertain whether it's a problem on your end, or whether it's actually an outage with your provider. First up, try turning your computer and your modem off and on again. This can fix a surprising amount of problems.

If you restart your modem and your computer and are still without internet connectivity, use your internet provider's service status tool to check for any information about potential outages or disruptions (using a secondary internet connection, such as your phone).

Here's direct links to the service status pages of the major providers:

If you don't see anything for your area on your provider's service status page, check out its social media presence (Facebook and Twitter) to see if there's any updates there, or complaints from other customers.

If the issue is still recent or developing, your provider might not have information straight away. In this scenario, take a look at Aussie Outages. Aussie Outages analyses user feedback for several Australian broadband providers to determine outages and service interruptions at an early stage.

If it doesn't look like you're experiencing an outage, your lack of internet connectivity could be an issue with your computer, with your modem or router, or a problem that's specifically affecting your connection. While this can be a little hard to diagnose without a complete symptom list, if you think the problem lies with your connection (none of your devices can get online, your modem still works), it's probably worth giving your internet provider's support team a call.

If it's a widespread outage

If you're actually experiencing an internet outage, more often than not, your only option is to sit and wait. While this might be frustrating, when the issue exists on your provider's end, you have to wait for them to fix it.

Calling your provider's support line in an outage is often a fruitless exercise that simply results in long hold times and no new information. A better option is to keep an eye on the appropriate service status page and social media channels for updates.

When your provider says it has resolved the issue, you may need to turn your modem or router off and on again to get back online.

Can I get compensation?

According to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), consumers have the right to claim compensation under their contract and the Australian Consumer Law in regards to an outage.

Of course, it might not always be worth trying to claim compensation. If you've been without internet for an hour, you'll potentially spend hours trying to claim compensation for what could be a dollar or two off your bill.

If you're without internet for over a day - and it's clearly the fault of your provider - it is definitely worth seeking compensation. If your internet is down for a week, ACCAN says you could be entitled to a week's worth of service fees and any losses incurred. For example, the cost of an interim replacement service.

What causes internet outages

The internet might be easy to use, but it's incredibly complicated to run. A couple of common reasons for internet outages include weather events, congestion, hardware failure, software errors, human error, and maintenance.

Stressed business woman with laptop at work and tired you man falling asleep with notebook on sofa images from Shutterstock. 

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