So after over an hour of trying to locate the problem, I tried calling the technical assistance number on the landline. The landline was dead! Ahh, since both the landline and the broadband go down the Optus cable, it seemed as though it may have been an Optus problem after all. I called the technical assistance number on the mobile. After tracking through several menus each with several options, the recording told me that the call should be answered within 10 minutes. 15 minutes later (it felt longer), still on hold…… So I gave up. Using the mobile, I tried ringing the neighbour who has a Optus email address – the beeps told me their phone was down as well. So I walked across the street and all was made clear: the Optus system had gone down over 3 hours before (the neighbour was on the internet when it happened), and she had managed to call Optus who had no idea when the problem would be fixed.
Of course, my problems with the phone and internet were pretty insignificant when compared with the people in the US who are at the very same time were without power in bitterly cold conditions, and trivial compared with those who had been flooded there. And perhaps I ought to have checked the landline as soon as I suspected that there might have been an Optus issue. But I was a little irritated that the outage wasn’t notified on the internet site that exists for this very purpose. And if there is a problem, why not add a recording on the faults number, or at least be honest to those joining the phone queue as to how long you may have to wait (incurring mobile phone charges). Better still, of course, would be to gear up the call centre (wherever it might be, but my hunch is that it’s not in Australia) so as to respond to the enquiries in a timely manner.
My irritability settled down a little when I looked up the street a little later, and there they were, flashing lights! And a friendly guy in his Optus van who confirmed that, yes, there was a fault somewhere nearby – all he had to do is to track it down! It was nice to see that there was someone actually working on the problem. But later in the evening, the van and flashing lights were gone – and the phone was working but no internet!
Next morning I worked through the issues again. This time, I only did a minimal number of checks before getting on to the help desk - but not including re-booting the computer when directly connected to the modem. The help desk guy talked me through this, quite nicely. Apparently a re-boot was needed to encourage the computer to re-find an IP address (don't ask me whether this was due to the outage or something I did trying to fix the problem). But I had to work out for myself that the router installation had to be re-run so that it, too, had an appropriate IP address.
Given that I have been with Optus for many years, and this is the first outage that has affected me, I don’t suppose I have too much to complain about --- although I am sure that I could have better used the several hours that this process absorbed.