IM, Skype a beacon in QLD blackout

Students flock to IP chat during Optus outage

In a classic case of ingenuity and adaptability, university students stranded by this week's Optus network failure in Queensland have taken to Instant Messaging (IM) and Skype to talk interstate.

The blackout killed connections to mobile phones across the state, but students of the University of Queensland (UQ) were able to keep in touch over IM and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), many for the first time, using the school's AARNET research network.

A spokesperson from the university's IT department said many students lost mobile phone connectivity, however its phone services were operational because it runs over the UQ network.

"We had a huge spike in users taking up Skype and talking over IM and in chatrooms, and many of them for the first time," he said.

"Students were very quick to use other forms of communications."

"The issue we had with the outage was the lack of clarity from Optus on how long the outage would be, as we were unsure of whether to get our backup services running."

He said the university's business operations were unaffected.

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