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Mobile outages and what to check

If your phone service is suddenly unavailable, there are steps to take before you contact your telco.

Your rights if there’s an outage

From time to time, your phone service may be unavailable because of an outage. Telcos don’t guarantee you will always have a connection.

If the outage is only minor and short, it is unlikely you will receive any compensation or refund.

But the telco may be breaking your service agreement, depending on:

  • the reasons for the outage
  • the terms of your contract

Some contracts allow you to apply for a refund or rebate when you can’t use a service because of an outage. This is usually only for major outages that you did not cause.

Sometimes a telco will offer compensation for the loss of service, even if they don’t have to.

You also have rights under the Australian Consumer Law. These are separate from your telecommunications contract. If the service outages are frequent and/or major, you may be able to:

  • ask for a refund or rebate for the period you were without service
  • cancel your contract without a penalty
  • ask for compensation for any loss that happened as a result

Complain to your telco if an outage has affected you. They have a complaints process to follow. 

If you’re not happy with the way they manage your complaint, you can contact the telecommunications ombudsman.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission also provides information on your rights as a consumer.

Alternatives when your network is unavailable

When landline services are unavailable

When mobile services are unavailable

  • Try to use a landline phone if you have one, a VoIP phone over broadband, or borrow a phone from a friend.
  • If you have a wi-fi connection and your phone supports wi-fi calling, you may still be able to make calls.
  • Search for a public payphone near you.
  • You can still call emergency services on Triple Zero [link to: TBC] if another carrier provides mobile coverage at your location.

Check your mobile device

Switch the phone or tablet off and on again to see if this fixes the problem. If not, you may have:

  • used all your mobile data
  • a weak signal or no signal at all
  • run out of money on a prepaid service
  • out-of-date software
  • low or no battery

Check your mobile network connection

Your network may be unavailable because of maintenance or an outage.

The name of your mobile network is usually at the top of your screen. If this is missing, there may be a network issue.

Try your SIM card in another device, as long as it isn’t locked to your network. If it works, the problem may be your phone.

If you can, check your messages. Your telco may have sent you information about a planned outage. Or, ask a friend to check your network operator’s website:

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