Inside the Telstra Global Operations Centre: how we keep you connected

Reminiscent of NASA’s Mission Control, and staffed around the clock. We’re lifting the lid on our Global Operations Centre: a high-tech facility designed to keep you connected.
Paul Kubik · 21 December 2023 · 7 minute read

What is the Telstra Global Operations Centre?

Often referred to as the 'Mission Control' of Telstra, the Global Operations Centre (GOC) operates 24x7, 365 days a year, staffed by a dedicated team of network professionals, many of whom carry decades of experience.

This elite team monitors the health of our expansive network in Australia and also keeps a vigilant eye on our global operations. The centre manages six international cable systems (plus three in the Bass Strait) – consisting of 400,000km of subsea cables connecting us to the rest of the world. If you laid that cable out, it would almost stretch from Earth to the Moon!

At the heart of the GOC's operations lies a sophisticated monitoring system. A dedicated network team diligently tracks the vitality of Telstra's network, enabling swift responses to connectivity issues.

This nerve centre allows us to reconfigure our network, providing excess capacity wherever needed—all from the confines of a strategically designed facility, leveraging multiple core networks.

The network is constantly communicating with the Global Operations Centre on its health and performance.  There are almost 100 billion events sent to the GOC every day. Using artificial intelligence (AI), these are summarised down to around 1000 events each day that may require automated or manual intervention.

The GOC is brought to life by a formidable team of 500 individuals who work tirelessly to support and maintain local, national and global connectivity through disasters and other disruptive events

The journey to establish the Global Operations Centre was no small feat. We invested six years in consolidating hundreds of sites scattered across Australia into a singular, technologically-advanced hub. This consolidation not only drove efficiency and speed but also enhanced the network's resiliency to withstand the challenges of the digital age.

What happens when there’s an outage?

There’s no such technology that works 100% of the time, but a lot of what the Global Operations Centre does to help respond to disruptions happens very quietly.

In the throes of the GOC's daily operations, the team contends with at least one disruption event every week—ranging from localised storms to bushfires or floods and cable cuts by road crews damaging infrastructure. Events like major bushfires and storms (such as Cyclone Jasper), exemplify this response.

The team of experienced technicians and troubleshooters are there around the clock to make sure that when something goes down, you’re able to keep calling, texting and using the web as quickly as possible. 

24x7, 365: Inside the Telstra Global Operations Centre

Telstra teams staff the Global Operations Centre 24x7, 365 days a year to ensure network resilience and safety.

Telstra teams staff the Global Operations Centre 24x7, 365 days a year to ensure network resilience and safety.
Telstra teams staff the Global Operations Centre 24x7, 365 days a year to ensure network resilience and safety.

If connectivity is lost, or a community is pushed offline by a disaster, alarms ring in the GOC, alerting the team to the issues. That team then starts to rapidly assess the situation, with the safety of our customers and our employees being top priority.

Gathering intel about what’s happening on the ground is crucial in this phase. Failure to plan is a plan to fail, so we need to get really clear about who we’re going to get on the ground and what they need to do when they’re there.

For some communities that are a long way from help, we go the extra mile to make sure they have the connectivity they need. We travel hundreds of kilometres to bring coverage back online to some of the most remote parts of the country.

Construction crews are lined up; equipment is allocated, even helicopters in complex situations, and emergency equipment – like Cells-On-Wheels (COWs) and Mobile-Exchange-On-Wheels (MEOWs) – are deployed once it’s safe to do so.

When there isn’t an outage, the work of resilience continues.

While the nation is sleeping, we are constantly upgrading the network to improve the reliability and security and fixing anything that could become an issue before business hours. That way you wake up, grab your smartphone and never notice that there had been a potential issue!

The team also performs “match fitness” exercises. This means simulating and testing various potential outage scenarios. We're always striving to improve on response times.

What are the most common causes of outages?

Outages can occur in a number of different ways, but the most common causes are often related to the physical network itself.

The most common causes of outages are:

  • Power outages – like your computer, the communications network needs electricity to run. We have generators and batteries at critical location, but if power is down for an extended period, we need to put temporary power solutions in place.  
  • Fibre cuts – there are 8.5 million kilometres of fibre sheath across Australia.  Similar to the water and electricity network, we go past almost every home and business to provide the internet.  That’s why it’s important to Dial Before You Dig (BYDA) if you're doing any drilling or construction.
  • Equipment failure – the network is made up of millions of boxes that carry internet and mobile traffic.  More recently these boxes are going from dedicated hardware to software which provides new opportunities to automatically restore faults.  Software also helps define how the network operates, and ensuring this is kept in line is also crucial.

Keeping up with technology to keep you online

In the rapidly-accelerating world of tech, the GOC is at the forefront. We continually invest in improvements to its monitoring and maintenance capabilities.

Our job is to keep communications running so that people can stay connected, and others can stay connected to them.

By Paul Kubik

Incident Operations Executive

Paul leads Telstra’s Incident Management and Global Operations Centre (GOC), responsible for the 24x7 restoration of customer incidents across network and IT systems. The team is responsible for incident, problem and change management including the coordinated response to mass disruptions such as cyclones, floods and bushfires. Telstra is bringing together the best of ITIL, DevOps delivery methods to drive faster restoration of customer issues. Paul was previously the engineering executive for Telstra’s voice and video networks; responsible for consumer calling, enterprise collaboration, contact centre solutions, and emergency calling including Triple Zero. Paul completed his Bachelor of Electrical Engineering (Hons) at UQ (University of Queensland), a Masters of Business Adminsitration (eMBA), and a Masters of Marketing from RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology). Paul has also been the past IEEE Victorian Chair (2010-11), Australian Council Secretary (2009) and Treasurer (2010-11). IEEE is a professional, academic and student community that fosters technological innovation and provides services to benefit members.