Last Wednesday Optus phone, mobile and internet users in Australia went without and sort of service for a full working day, starting from about 4 in the morning. At he same time, Thames Water in Surrey were slowly connecting back customers who had not had water supplies since the previous Saturday morning. Why are things we have always assumed we can rely on, suddenly starting to break? A spokesperson for Thames Water says the outage was because of a rare storm that only occurs every ten years. So are we now specifying infrastructure is good enough, even if it can’t cope with a one-in-ten year event? How did we get here? Is it the privatisation of these services, is it the political culture, is it ravages of uncontrolled competition or is a lack of engineering focus. Phil and Steve are joined this week by Matt Tett, who runs Ennex Test Labs, a Melbourne based company that runs performance checks on key bits of infrastructure, including equipment within telecommunication networks. What does he think we can take out from the Optus failure?
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