In March 2013, I published the details into my investigation of the fire at the Warrnambool exchange. For almost six months my professional and personal life was consumed trying to determine not only the cause of the fire but also what we could learn from this experience.
My report made a number of recommendations to protect our customer’s services and our network as well as minimise the chance of such an event ever happening again. I also looked at measures to help us recover more quickly should a similar exchange ever be damaged to the same extent.
Of all the things that we have learned since the fire, one of the biggest surprises actually came after we had restored the Warrnambool Exchange to full working order. In the months following the restoration we noticed a significant drop in the consumption of power at the site which was something that we had not been expecting.
Our third generation Mobile Exchange on Wheels (MEOW™) has recently rolled off the production line and I have to say that I’m really proud of how the MEOW Mk III has turned out – from concept to reality.
Our MEOWs have an important role to play in providing communications to customers in an emergency or natural disaster. If a Telstra exchange or street cabinet becomes inoperable (usually due to a fire or flood) we can deploy a MEOW to provide fixed phone and broadband services while the exchange or street facility is repaired.
When Telstra’s Chief Operations Officer Brendon Riley asked me to investigate the Warrnambool Exchange fire he said I would need to get my hands dirty. It wasn’t until I was crawling through the ceiling space of the burnt out exchange that I realised he wasn’t joking.
I am pleased to share some positive news as we begin the 2013 year. After 18 months we have completed the major project of migrating all existing copper services in the South Brisbane Exchange area to fibre, which covers over 18,000 services.
The construction and migration aspects of the project have been completed ahead of schedule and we are on track to hand over the site to the Queensland Government in June this year.
I am pleased to say that last Friday Telstra passed an important milestone on the Fibre to South Brisbane project, connecting the 5000th customer to the new fibre network.
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