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Cyclone Yasi Update No 2

Telstra News

Posted on February 4, 2011

6 min read

Telstra has deployed helicopters carrying vital fuel supplies to its key infrastructure to keep generators running and communication lines open.

The helicopters were instrumental to this morning’s restoration of an outage that affected some phone services north of Ingham including Cairns.

The problem arose after several telecommunications links in the area were damaged by lightning strikes and flooding. Additionally, some important transmission equipment lost mains and backup power, and could not be accessed immediately due to a combination of flooding, isolation and exclusion zones set by local emergency services.

Telstra worked with Emergency Services Queensland and Australian Defence Force personnel to deploy technicians by helicopter and road to restore services.

Other developments

The lack of mains power remains a critical issue, made worse by the lack of access to hundreds of network sites. We have more than 400 network sites without mains power in the region, with 32 “Red Zones” that remain inaccessible due to cyclone damage. Telstra has more than 200 technicians deployed in the region working as quickly as they can to restore individual customer faults and repower network sites. To date access to some areas has required helicopters and police escorts.

Telstra has seen a substantial increase in the number of phone services not operating in the cyclone damage zone. Our current estimate is over 70,000 landlines not working.  However, where we see mains power restored, we will see significant improvement in the number of services restored.

We have 100 mobile towers without service on the network. We would emphasise, however, that our mobile network is operating well in many areas, as impacted sites often have overlapping coverage.

Telstra is working to restore mobile communications at Tully and will be deploying portable satellite mobile phone towers, Cells on Wheels (CoWs), at Dunk and Palm Islands.

In addition to network outages, we are seeing individual service faults at a much higher level across the region as customers return home and to their businesses.

We are monitoring the network closely, and are working closely with emergency service organisations, the Australian Defence Force, and Ergon Energy to access priority sites to ensure we get customers reconnected as soon as possible.

We know how important it is to keep customers connected during this time. Telstra is committed to repowering and restoring the network as quickly as possible and thanks north Queenslanders for their patience during this time.

We have a Triple Three Recovery Plan which outlines three distinct phases aimed at restoring communication services:

  • Immediate short term service: within first three days
  • Temporary network restoration: within three weeks
  • Final infrastructure build: three months

Assistance package for customers

Telstra has today announced an assistance package for Telstra residential and small business customers in the region.  The package provides practical assistance with phone services including free call diversions, and holding of customer phone numbers and email addresses.

Under the assistance package, Telstra offers customers who report a temporary loss of their Telstra service:

  • Free call diversion from their fixed service to a fixed or mobile service of their choice;
  • For Telstra customers who have diverted their fixed line phone to their Telstra mobile, mobile calls charged at home line rates as per their selected HomeLine plan for local and STD calls (limited to one designated Telstra mobile per affected household or business).

The package also includes the following for affected customers:

  • Cancellation of a Telstra fixed phone service at existing premises or business with free number re-direction for three months and number reservation to be provided up to 12 months;
  • Free connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at one residence or business within a twelve-month period beginning from the date of the disaster;
  • Cancellation of a BigPond service at existing premises or business with free email address reservation to be provided for three months;
  • Free reconnection of a BigPond service at one residence or business within a twelve-month period beginning from the date of the disaster; and
  • Telstra mobile customers who do not have a fixed line will receive a one off credit to the value of $50.00, limited to one mobile phone per household or business.
  • Telstra is also offering free Microsoft software for affected businesses in Queensland. For more information and details of what’s included businesses should contact their Telstra Account Executive or call 1300 13 66 77.

Free calls from payphones

We have payphones which have have been switched to free local and STD calls for people without telecommunications to connect to their family and friends at the following locations:

  • Smithfield – McGregor Road – James Cook University Bus Shelter
  • Trinity Beach – Trinity Beach Road – near Rabaul Street
  • Mossman – Front Street – at Post Office
  • Woree – Jasper Street – near Toogood Road
  • Earlville – Mulgrave Road – Stocklands
  • Babinda – Munro Street – outside Post Office
  • Ingham – Townsville Road – Near Ingham Exchange
  • Innisfail – Rankin Street – outside Telstra Exchange
  • Innisfail – Edith Street
  • Innisfail – Fitzgerald Esp – outside Hospital
  • Innisfail – Fitzgerald Esp – opposite RSL
  • Tully – Bryant Street
  • Tully – Butler Street – outside 5 Star Store
  • Ravenshoe – Grigg Street

If you are calling Telstra and notice a delay

As a staff safety measure, we have temporarily closed several call centres based in north Queensland. As a result, customers may experience some delay in reaching our teams, however, all calls will be diverted and answered by other centres.

Tips for customers during this time

  • Power and your home phone – please note that power failures will affect cordless PSTN phones and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) services that require 240V power to operate. Customers using VoIP should check with their service providers. It is best to use a standard fixed phone during this time, as it does not rely on 240V power to operate. Power failures will also impact other home electrical items like broadband modems and Foxtel.
  • Have a spare mobile battery – it’s advisable to have a spare, fully charged battery on stand-by. Also, charge your battery when you have the opportunity due to power outages.
  • Carry an additional mobile phone charger – an in-car and a separate AC mains charger are essential if you are leaving your home.
  • Keep essential numbers close by – have a list of essential contact numbers close at hand, including local Police, Fire, SES and Telstra’s fault line – 13 22 03.
  • Use Triple Zero (000) appropriately – only call Triple Zero in life threatening emergencies.
  • Keep calls to a minimum – it’s advisable to keep calls to a minimum during this time to allow people to call emergency service organisations.

Tips on how to preserve mobile battery life

  • Limit phone use to essential communications (voice & SMS).
  • Switch Wi-Fi, GPS and Bluetooth services off (unless required).
  • Reduce screen brightness via your phone settings.
  • Avoid surfing the net or playing videos on your phone.

Telstra Stores

Telstra Stores and licensees across the impacted areas are opening as power becomes available.  Several stores in Cairns, Mt Isa, Smithfield, Mackay and The Whitsundays are now open for business. Stores in Townsville and other areas remain closed and we will update customers when they reopen.

To report a fault

  • Residential: 13 22 03
  • Telstra Business customers: 13 29 99
  • Telstra Enterprise and Government customers: 1800 815 851

For more information, see the Telstra media release

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