How to respond when the Internet stops working

Turning it off and on again is sometimes a viable solution.

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In our always-online world, losing access to the Internet can be as infuriating as your car breaking down in the middle of Woop Woop. Whether you were halfway through streaming the latest episode of Game of Thrones or conducting a critical video call with a new client, having your Internet connection give up the ghost is more than a mild inconvenience.

However, before you vow vengeance on the Internet gods, you might want to run through the steps we've laid out below to see if you can fix the problem yourself – or failing that, find out how to seek appropriate compensation.

Step 1: Eliminate the easy fixes

The first thing you should always do when your Internet starts misbehaving is check the issue isn't isolated to a single device. By confirming that your phone, your computer and your tablet are all suffering the same problem, you can eliminate the possibility that it's just your PC that's playing up.

The next easy fix might be something of a running gag, but it's surprisingly effective: try turning your modem (and your router, if you have one) off, wait around 30 seconds, then turn it back on again. A good reboot like this can resolve a wide range of network issues, so it's always worth a shot even if it seems like a dull fix.

If you're connecting to your home network over Wi-Fi, as most people do these days, you'll want to dig up an ethernet cable and try connecting a computer or laptop directly to your modem. If this gets you back online, you've likely got a problem with your wireless router and may need to get it repaired or replaced.

Step 2: Determine whether the problem is widespread

If you've ruled out your home devices as the root of the problem, the next step is to see if other people on your Internet provider's network are experiencing the same issue. Your first port of call should be your provider's service status page, as well as any social media accounts it maintains. If the provider is aware of a widespread issue, it will likely make an announcement through one or more of these channels, along with an estimated time for when the issue should be fixed.

We've listed the relevant pages for the biggest providers below:

Provider Service status Twitter Facebook
Telstra telstra logo twitter facebook
Optus optus logo twitter facebook
iiNet iinet logo twitter facebook
Dodo dodo logo twitter facebook
iPrimus iprimus logo twitter facebook
TPG tpg logo twitter facebook
Internode Internode logo twitter facebook
Foxtel Broadband foxtel logo twitter facebook

If there are no announcements of an Internet outage on your provider's official channels, your next stop should be Down Detector, a handy site that collects reports, tweets and comments from the public on the current status of a variety of Internet services and providers. Down Detector can often identify an outage well before a provider has come out and announced it, which can at least provide you with a little peace of mind while you're waiting for the outage to be resolved.

Unfortunately, if you do find yourself caught up in a widespread outage, there's not a whole lot you can do but wait for your provider to fix it. If the outage is expected to last for a considerable time, you might want to look at purchasing a mobile broadband solution to get you by.

Step 3: Report an isolated issue

Should you find no signs of a widespread outage, it's possible the problem is isolated to your local exchange or even your house. In this case, the best move is to contact your provider and report the problem. You'll likely have to go through a troubleshooting procedure with their technical staff to help narrow down the cause of the problem, and if that doesn't help, you may have to book an engineer to come out and assess the situation in person. If that happens, you could be stuck without Internet access for a few days or more.

Step 4: Compensation

Losing Internet access is sure to leave you understandably miffed, and in some cases, you can claim compensation from your provider. According to the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), you are entitled to seek compensation for any money lost or disadvantage incurred due to an Internet outage. You'll need to submit to your provider evidence of when the outage occurred as well as proof that it caused you damages. If your provider doesn't acknowledge your complaint, you can then take the issue to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman for further assistance.

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