Customer service update – Tasmanian bushfires
Posted on January 5, 2013
12 min read
Technicians John Sherrin, Jamie Bingham and Greg Allanby work to restore burnt copper cables feeding the Boomer Bay area of Dunalley
There has been some very good news today, with the Tasmanian Government Department of Premier & Cabinet (DPAC) advising residents, property owners and business operators they can start returning to the Tasman Peninsula.
All areas of the peninsula will be accessible from midday. However, the access via the Arthur Highway, which remains closed to the general public (including media), is for residents, property owners and business operators only.
We continue to have no impact on our network due to the Tasmanian fires. Our field restoration crew’s attention continues to be repairing the damaged cables connecting exchanges to individual homes and working with customers and businesses on restoring their services.
The whole Telstra workforce is thinking of those affected by the bushfires and we have set up a matched giving program where Telstra will match employee donations to the Tasmanian Bushfire Appeal.
Any customers in affected areas that do not have their usual phone services are asked to please contact us on 132 203 to report a fault as well as check eligibility for an assistance package. The area for assistance relief packages has been expanded to include affected areas on the east coast including Bicheno.
Telstra will attempt to hold all bills for affected customers until a more appropriate time.
Telstra’s Dion Young and Rachel Moore, talking to customers at Telstra’s portable communication centre set up at Dunalley Hotel’s car park.
Telecommunication core infrastructure (exchanges and base stations) remain largely intact as Telstra crews have addressed all network impacts. The main issue continues to be power outages; however a number of generators are in place to restore power to these services.
Our field restoration crew’s attention is now turning to repairing the damaged cables connecting exchanges to homes and working with customers and businesses on restoring their services.
Telstra has arranged for a portable communication centre to be established at Dunalley Hotel which is providing free phone and internet services and a location to charge mobile phone batteries. Our Dunalley communication centre will also be able to assist customers with prepaid phone credit, phones chargers, handsets, sim replacements for people that require them.
We have representatives caring for the communities telecommunication needs at Sorell’s Evacuation Centre (Sorell Memorial Hall, 47 Cole Street).
A number of temporary replacement mobile phones and chargers have been supplied to stores (Sorell – Shop 5 Sorell Plaza, 12 Cole Street and for those evacuated to Hobart – 44-46 Elizabeth Street or Shop 6 Cat & Fiddle Arcade, 51 Murray Street)
If you are an impacted prepaid customer and your mobile credit is running low you should visit either Telstra Stores as above or Telstra’s portable communication centre at Dunalley and they will be able to assist you.
We’ve also provided Next G® routers at the Nubeena relief centre, where at one stage several thousand residents were evacuated to. Over the next days we will be providing further mobile, satellite or Next G® interim solutions to affected businesses and residents.
At Dunalley and Murdunna our exchanges are right beside the general stores and we have provided a lead from the generators powering our exchanges to these stores to keep their fridges going to assist them to supply services to their local communities.
UPDATE 08/01/13 @ 11.45AM:
Our field crews worked hard in convoys yesterday and overnight and as of this morning the team have reduced the number of landline services impacted to 194.
This result is due to our teams working closely with Emergency Service agencies to gain access to sites which allowed our crews to connect up portable generators and is also due to our cable repair crews who are hard at work.
Yesterday evening power failed at Koonya resulting in the failure of two GSM (2G) mobile sites in Big Blue Hill and Mt Arthur. We will attend Koonya today to determine the cause of the failure and attempt repair. Mt Arthur’s 3G site is operational. However, a crew is attending our Big Blue Hill mobile site this morning to attempt to restore 3G coverage to that area.
Restoration efforts today will also focus on repairing the damaged cable between the exchange and homes/businesses at Dunalley. The majority of the remainder of impacted landline and broadband services will be restored once the damaged cable are repaired.
Mat Dewar, who is manning Telstra’s Community Recovery Unit onsite at Sorell evacuation centre, reports he and the team there have been providing people in need with information about restoration activities and have been distributing temporary communication options (e.g mobile phones, phone chargers, replacement sim cards) to best serve the community.
Our team at Telstra’s incident management centre at Sorell Exchange (Telstra’s Liam Doyle, Chris Fletcher, Greg Allanby, Darren Cook, Mat Dewar and Rachel Moore and Silcar’s Dean Romari), have been partnering with Emergency Services to manage restoration efforts and to distribute Satellite Phones, TECKs and TREKs as required.
- Telstra Emergency Communications Kits (TECKs) are small, portable communications packs designed to provide voice, data and broadband services to emergency services during times of crisis over Telstra’s Next G® network.
- Telstra Remote Emergency Kits (TREKs) are portable cases that each contains three handsets that use the Iridium Satellite network. These are deployed when mobile and fixed networks are damaged or destroyed.
Payphones in the impacted areas have been switched to charge free as of midnight on 4 January and you will find details of locations in my last two updates below.
Telstra is also supporting the local community by distributing additional portable power generators to priority community facilities.
In fact, our teams are doing what they can to assist. See the photo below of the rear of a Telstra technician’s van, on his way to repair the cable damage at Dunalley, loaded to the roof with animal feed.
UPDATE 07/01/13 @ 3.45PM:
Please see links below for maps of Telstra free payphone locations.
- Overview of all locations
- Dodges Ferry-Primrose
- New Norfolk and Surrounds
- New Norfolk
- North West Region
- Sorell and Surrounds
- South East
UPDATE 07/01/13 @ 10:00AM:
Our thoughts go out to all those affected by the current fires on the Tasman Peninsula.
Telstra is pleased to report that the three main exchanges of Dunalley, Nubeena and Koonya are now supported by high capacity generators. The focus for the next few days is to restore the majority of customer landline services via the deployment of generators to the remaining remote sites, and completing repairs of a fire damaged cable between the exchange and homes and businesses at Dunalley, as access permits. The remaining mobile sites are expected to be restored when access is provided with the assistance of emergency service personnel and portable generators are connected.
The current impact is affecting approximately 500 landline services across Dunalley, Eaglehawk Neck and Carlton River.
Telstra reminds customers affected by Tasmania’s fires they can:
- Call Telstra on 132 203 to report a fault and check eligibility for an assistance package.
- Use Telstra payphones in the affected area to make free local, national and mobile calls (list of sites below).
- Charge your mobile at your local Telstra store, including Sorell – Shop 5 Sorell Plaza, 12 Cole Street and for those evacuated to Hobart – 44-46 Elizabeth Street or Shop 6 Cat & Fiddle Arcade, 51 Murray Street.
- Charge your mobile and access some free phone and internet services at the Sorell Evacuation Centre, which is currently at Sorell Memorial Hall, 47 Cole Street.
Free payphones sites include the following:
|DODGES FERRY||CARLTON BEACH||RD|
|MOUNT FIELD||MT FIELD||RD|
Telecommunication infrastructure in the area remains largely intact with the main issue being power outages; however a number of generators are now in place to help restore these services.
Telstra staff are working with the relevant authorities to gain access to impacted sites and are attempting to reconnect affected services as quickly as possible.
In some areas the fire was so intense it has damaged our cables connecting exchanges to homes and businesses. We will be assessing the damage as soon as access is available and additional cable crews are on standby to make repairs.
The current impact is affecting approximately 600 landline services and a number of mobile phone base stations in the area are without power, however these are expected to be restored today.
Affected Telstra customers can register for an assistance package by calling 132203. If eligible, this will provide them with free diversions of landline phones to a mobile phone and for calls made on that mobile to be charged at landline rates for a period of time. Telstra will attempt to hold all bills for affected customers until a more appropriate time.
Telstra has also arranged for a portable communication centre to be established at the Sorell Evacuation Centre which can provide some free phone and internet services and a location to charge mobile phone batteries.
Temporary replacement mobile phones and chargers are en route to stores today and customers can use Telstra stores to recharge mobile phone batteries.
On a feel good note; the Telstra field team at Dunalley advises that they have put two spare generators to good use – one to power Dunalley’s petrol station and the other the local store.
UPDATE: 05/01/2012 @ 7:15PM
This afternoon field crews were able to connect and fuel up generators at Nubeena, Koonya and Dunalley exchanges.
We are now trying to access our Copping, Marion Bay and Port Arthur sites to install generators.
Access is not available to number of mobile base station sites in the Tasman Peninsula area, but we will be making every endeavour to get access over the next 24 hours.
Whilst we haven’t had exchanges directly impacted by fire, we are arranging for our Mobile Exchange on Wheels (MEOW) to be dispatched to Tasmania as a precautionary measure.
Our MEOW is a transportable, trailer sized mobile ADSL 2+ enabled exchange which can be substituted for an existing exchange if this is damaged or destroyed. The MEOW provides up to 450 landline services and more than 330 broadband ADSL services.
I continue to encourage customers to call Telstra on 132 203 to report a fault and register for the assistance package as appropriate.
UPDATE: 05/01/2013 @ 2PM
Despite the severity of the bush fires across the Tasman Peninsula, Telstra’s key exchange and base station infrastructure has not been directly damaged by fire. However, as a result of loss of mains power, a number of our sites have been impacted.
The Telstra team, are working hard ensuring exchanges and base station sites without AC mains power have generators connected and are being maintained by a regular refuelling regime (and will continue to do so as access permits).
There are some sites we haven’t access to as yet and we are working with Emergency Services to get generators to these as soon as access permits. We expect this to be within the next 24 hours.
Koonya lost power and exchange battery back-up as been exhausted resulting in services off Koonya exchange being impacted.
Once we gain access to Dunalley, Telstra is planning to set up a kiosk there to assist customers requiring help with temporary service options (e.g. mobile and temporary service options can include Satellite Phones and Wireless Routers).
Last year we introduced the Service Status website, a place where customers can access updates about outages. In the event of a disaster such as this one, the site includes details of known impacts to fixed mobile and broadband services and ongoing updates of restoration activities.
As stated in my last Blog update, while we will be working hard to restore the exchanges, it is important to note that it is likely fire may have damaged cables connecting exchanges to homes and businesses. As access permits, we will attend to these cables and attempt to repair them as quickly as possible.
Technicians are preparing to travel from the mainland to help with cable repairs and service restoration.
I continue to encourage customers to call Telstra on 132 203 to report a fault and register for the assistance package as appropriate.
Due to extreme weather being experienced in Tasmania, a number of fires have impacted local power facilities. In these areas, landline, broadband and mobile services have been affected.
Whilst some of Telstra’s exchanges in the peninsula area have lost mains power, we have (and will continue to do so as access permits) connected generators to power the exchanges.
Whilst we will be working hard to restore the exchanges, the fire may have damaged cables connecting exchanges to homes and businesses. As access permits, we will attend to these cables and attempt to repair them as quickly as possible.
Technicians will continue to work to fully recover communications services which had been impacted by the fires, with the main issues related to power outages.
I encourage customers to call Telstra on 132 203 to report a fault and register for the assistance package as appropriate.
We understand this is a terrible time for anyone who has been affected by these fires and hopefully this package will help people as they work through this incident.
Dunalley, Nubeena, Elbow Hill, Big Blue Hill and Koonya have had power generators connected. Emergency Services have been engaged to assist with refuelling these generators as required. Due to some access issues, in some cases this work is being carried out by boat and helicopter.