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Business and Enterprise |

How small business can prepare for disasters

By Anne Da Cunha October 9, 2020

As the effects of climate change become more acute, we need to be more prepared than ever for Summer disaster season. We all know the drill to prepare our homes and the gear we need, but as more and more of us do business online, how can we be sure to keep our virtual stores open when the worst happens? We’ve got some tips.

Did you know?

Disasters impact all of us and being prepared can make things a bit easier. We’ll be running a series of blogs in the coming weeks to help you prepare to stay connected in the event you experience a disaster in your area.

Ensuring physical continuity

The NSW State Emergency Service recommends all businesses follow simple steps to ensure your business can get back on its feet quickly in the event of a disaster. The NSW SES advice also has a booklet you can fill out to ensure these plans are in place for you and your business.

The agency recommends knowing your level of risk by analysing disasters that have occurred in the area previously, before talking with your staff about these risks. These conversations with staff should result in an emergency action plan so you all know what to do ifthe worst hits.

Once the action plan is in place, prepare your business for a disaster by thinking about your equipment; stock; points of entry; essentials (such as paperwork), and how to minimise the threat to all of the above.

By having these steps in place, businesses can resume trading in a matter of days and not weeks or even months.

How can you keep your business online during a disaster?

Aussie businesses and consumers have moved online in droves in response to COVID-19 restrictions. But when disaster strikes, you may have to pivot your operations to do things a little differently in a bid to ensure that you can keep your business online.

Ensuring continuity following disasters comes from being well-prepared before the fire starts or the floodwaters start to rise.

First and foremost, work out an alternate location where you can do your business. If you get evacuated to a local shelter, check our coverage maps to ensure mobile broadband coverage in that location, and have a portable modem on standby in your business’ disaster kit.

Similarly, ensure your disaster kit is equipped with a “go-bag” of the gear you need to keep going. Equipment like portable batteries/alternative chargers as well as having the right apps and contact information on your phone is essential. We’ve got tips on how to build your “go-bag”.

Staying in touch with your customers is important, so you should ensure your communication channels are sorted out in advance. You can communicate to them via email or SMS for messages to a lot of people in a hurry, and if you consolidate your customer details into a CRM system, you’ll have it ready to go at the click of a button. Also, backup your data regularly to the cloud to ensure that if the worst should happen that your important documents are kept safe.

While we’re talking about communications, it’s also important to communicate and check in with your employees to ensure their safety before asking them to join you in the virtual office.

It’s important to consider how every part of your business – from customer acquisition through to product delivery – could be impacted by a disaster to ensure you aren’t disrupted by a disaster. For example, you might need to consider other shipment options if a disaster affects your physical location; or you may need to talk to customers a different way if you have to relocate or if you’re unable to reach them.

You should also write all of this down ahead of time so you have a simple plan to follow and you aren’t relying on memory when the going gets tough.

Keeping payments flowing

Getting paid is the most important thing for your business, especially in times of disasters.

If you have an EFTPOS machine, ensure you have a way to charge it when you’re on the go and away from mains power. Also ensure that you have a way of getting it connected to your payment provider. Similarly, ensure your EFTPOS machine has multiple ways of connecting to the internet, whether via Wi-Fi or mobile network to ensure redundancy.

It might be a good idea to have in your “go-bag” an alternative payment system, such as portable smartphone card reader or a way to take payments online. Payment providers like Square, Afterpay, BPAY, ZipPay and even direct bank transfer or PayID could be options for you to consider.

Ensuring your accounting system is backed up and portable is also important. Moving this information to the cloud can help ensure you’re keeping track of money going in and out even when the worst happens.

How we can help

Connectivity is the backbone of business in 2020, and we want to do everything we can to make sure that you’re online and open during a crisis.

During a disaster, we have assistance packages available to help, and our local stores are always on hand to answer questions face-to-face or even just provide you a place to charge your phone and/or portable batteries again.

As discussed, however, staying online during a crisis or disaster is often about being prepared ahead time. You can speak to one of our small business reps to ensure your business has the right tools in place for things like digital marketing services, cybersecurity or tech support.

It’s also important to keep an offline copy of this information. We recommend printing this information to keep on hand.

Devices |

How to prepare and stay connected during disaster season

By Dr Ben Gursansky September 17, 2020

We live in unprecedented times, there’s no question. But even with COVID-19 front of mind for so many, we still need to prepare for a season of natural disasters no matter where we are in the country. Here’s the tech you need in your disaster kit to stay connected.

Did you know?

Disasters impact all of us and being prepared can make things a bit easier. We’ll be running a series of blogs in the coming weeks to help you prepare to stay connected in the event you experience a disaster in your area.

First and foremost, it’s important to have an emergency plan in place before a critical incident arrives on your doorstep. That way you can quickly and efficiently evacuate and get you and your family to safety.

When preparing, ensure you consider the following from our emergency toolkit to keep you online and informed.

Mobile phones and portable devices

Invest in an alternative charger.

If you don’t already have one, purchase a phone charger that isn’t dependent on a power outlet. A popular choice is a ‘power bank’ battery pack that can be charged from a power outlet prior to an event and used if grid electricity is unavailable, or a portable solar panel charger or in-car charger.

Back up your data.

Store your important data, like contact information and personal photos, in the cloud using an online service. If you have an Apple or Google device, these smartphones have automatic backups that you can enable for extra peace of mind.

Know your emergency numbers.

Store a list of essential contact numbers for your local Police, Fire, SES teams as well as friends and family on your phone and as a backup. Make sure you include our dedicated disaster assistance number – 1800 888 888.

When you have your list of essential numbers, make sure you make a printed copy to keep in your wallet, purse or bag, and keep a version in your car as well. Power can go out for a week or longer during a disaster. Keeping a printed copy means that if your phone is out of battery and you need an important phone number, you have it handy at all times.

Consider a satellite phone.

In rural and regional areas, a satellite phone should usually be independent of any damaged infrastructure and can operate in remote locations. If your communications are critical or if you are in an isolated area, a satellite phone backup could come in handy. And if you only have one, make sure it is charged and accessible in the event you do need to use it.

Consider a repeater device

Like any mobile network, coverage on the Telstra Mobile Network depends on where you are, the mobile handset, tablet or mobile broadband device you’re using, and whether an external antenna can be attached. It’s important to understand that different devices have different capabilities.

Legal network coverage extension devices amplify the network signal your mobile device receives, which extends the area that your device can work in. These devices can help you connect to the Telstra Mobile Network from further away than normally possible, or in areas where signal may struggle to penetrate – such as indoors, or in hilly or dense terrain.

It’s important to note that boosters are illegal to own or operate on any network in Australia, and they can disrupt or even prevent others from making calls to emergency 000.

Legal wireless network coverage extension devices, such as the Telstra Mobile Smart Antenna and Telstra Go, are also known as ‘repeaters’ as they repeat the signal from one location to another.

You can see our range of repeaters and extenders on our website.

Fixed line phones

Home phones on the NBN are different.

Since the NBN carries your home phone line, it will be unavailable during a power outage. It’s best to have a mobile phone or satellite phone handy for this instance, especially in remote areas.

Enable Wi-Fi calling.

If cellular network signal is down during a disaster, you can still use your mobile phone to make and receive calls and text messages, provided it supports Wi-Fi Calling. Wi-Fi Calling provides basic voice-calling capability on compatible devices when you’re connected to a supported Wi-Fi network and can’t connect to the Telstra Mobile Network.

We have also switched on SMS over Wi-Fi, allowing you to receive texts via your fixed home network

Read our FAQ of how to set it up on your phone before you need it.

Keep a corded phone.

A cordless fixed line phone is convenient, but remember, most cordless phones rely on electric power to operate, so you may lose the use of your landline during a power outage. A corded phone draws its electricity directly from the phone line (excluding fixed line phones on NBN) and can be used during a power outage.

Keeping In Touch

Set up a virtual meeting place. If you have internet access, an instant messaging group chat with friends and family, or a social media site like Facebook or even Instagram, can give you and your loved ones extra information during a time of crisis.

Establish a calling tree: If mobile services have been impacted, find your local payphone – which is a fixed line service, and is more likely to withstand disaster impacts – and call a key contact who can then call other family and friends to inform them you’re safe.

Evacuation locations: Know where your local evacuation centre and emergency meeting spots are and what different routes you can use to get there as some roads may not be accessible during the disaster.

Download emergency services apps. These official apps will give you the most up-to-date information on what’s happening in your area, including natural disaster warnings.

Be alert. Subscribe to services that will alert you to weather changes, road closures and updates from other service providers in your area.

Use local information sources. Online, social media accounts for your local authorities and emergency services will share crucial information. Your local broadcaster will also share information over the radio – make sure you have a battery-powered radio or car radio to listen in on.

Below we’ve provided a preliminary list of information sources you may want to consider.

Government agencies for emergency response information:

Other critical information websites:

Business and Enterprise | Small Business |

Supporting small businesses through COVID-19

By Michael Ackland April 8, 2020

Updated July 8, 2020

Many small businesses across Australia are feeling the impacts of COVID-19. Australian small businesses are agile; we’ve always admired that about them, and we’ll see many of them adapt. But it’s important that the rest of Australia also gets behind them to support them through this challenging time. We’re showing our support by helping them adjust in a number of ways.

‏‏‎ ‎

Navigating financial difficulty

To give you peace of mind about staying connected to your business operations over the coming months, we’re providing unlimited data allowances on fixed broadband free of charge for our small business customers until 30 September.

If you’re a small business and a supplier of ours, we will also make sure we pay your invoices as quickly as we can. We recently announced we’re moving to 20-day payment terms by 30 June for all our suppliers who are small businesses, charities, indigenous organisations and disability enterprises.

Adapt and keep going

Doing business doesn’t look the same for many of us right now, so our aim is to help small businesses through this difficult period by assisting if you need to ramp up your digital presence.

We’re offering small businesses access to our new Digital Marketing Services website plans at half the regular cost, until 31 August. We’ll help you create or update your website and if needed, open an online store. We’ll be on hand to assist you in creating business listings for Google My Business, Apple Maps and Facebook Business. For our existing customers, we will automatically apply 50 per cent off your Telstra Digital Marketing or Telstra Online Essentials website subscription charge.

If you’re missing any equipment to work from home, Telstra’s Mobile Worksuite gives you the data, software, devices and support you need to get you and your team working remotely smoothly.

We continue to monitor the situation closely while working closely with regulators and the government. Our absolute focus remains on team wellbeing, supporting our customers and playing our part in the national response.

Additional support with business hibernation

As we see more and more businesses shutting their doors due to COVID-19 restrictions, we want to play our part in helping small businesses to hibernate and get through this difficult time. We’re offering small businesses with a 10-digit account number who have had to cease trading the option to suspend their fixed business services.

Further details and eligibility can be found on the Telstra website . Eligible customers can take up this offer by logging into Your Telstra Tools and submitting a Service Suspension request.

Once the suspension is applied, customers won’t be charged for their fixed service provided they don’t use it. The service suspension will remain in place until further notice and Telstra will provide customers with 30 days’ notice of when the suspension offer and suspensions will end.

Additionally, customers can also divert their affected fixed business phone service/s to another fixed or mobile service of their choice, regardless of the carrier, at no cost for the period the suspension is active. Once you have applied to suspend your services, you will be sent instructions via your registered email address on how to forward your calls.

Things you need to know:

  • Account suspensions will not be backdated.
  • Should a customer use their fixed service while it has been suspended, the suspension will be removed, and they will be billed for that month.
  • Offer is not available for Telstra mobile services, items purchased on a repayment option and Telstra Business Tech Support or Telstra Business Digital Marketing Services.
Telstra News |

Providing disaster assistance to our affected customers in South Australia

By Telstra News January 7, 2020

As bushfires continue to burn across many parts of Australia, we know many of our residential and small business customers are doing it tough. We’re here to help with an assistance package available for those affected in South Australia.

(This information is current at 18 February, 2020.)

We understand how important it is to reach out to friends and family during times of crisis, and we want to do all we can to help our customers. The assistance package provides customers with access to free and interim services during the recovery period, in addition to providing the wider community with free calls and free Telstra Air Wi-Fi through local payphones.

Please read below the following list of postcodes and suburbs to see more information on disaster assistance packages available to customers in these areas.

An assistance package is available for South Australian customers affected by bushfires. Customers impacted include those in the following postcodes and suburbs:

5131 – Houghton, Lower Hermitage, Upper Hermitage

5133 – Inglewood

5134 – Cherryville, Montacute

5220 – Parndana

5221 – American River, Ballast Head, Muston

5222 – American Beach, Antechamber Bay, Baudin Beach, Brown Beach, Cuttlefish Bay, Dudley East, Dudley West, Ironstone, Island Beach, Kangaroo Head, Pelican Lagoon, Penneshaw, Porky Flat, Sapphiretown, Willoughby, Willson River

5223 – Bay of Shoals, Birchmmore, Brownlow, Cape Borda, Cassini, Cygnet River, De Mole River, Duncan, D’estrees Bay, Emu Bay, Flinders Chase, Gosse, Haines, karrata, Kingscote, Kohinoor, Macgillivray, Menzies, Middle River, Nepean Bay, Newland, North Cape, Seal Bay, Seddon, Stokes Bay, Stun’sail Boom, Vivonne Bay, Western River, Wisanger

5232 – Cudlee Creek

5233 – Forreston, Gumeracha, Kenton Valley

5234 – Birdwood

5240 – Lenswood

5241 – Lobethal

5244 – Charleston, Harrogate, Inverbrackie, Mount Torrens, Woodside

5252 – Brukunga, Dawesley, Hay Valley, Kanmantoo, Nairne, St Ives

5275 – Blackford, Boatswain Forest, Cape Jaffa, Keilira, Kingston, Mount Benson, Pinks Beach, Reedy Creek, Rosetown, Sandy Grove, Taratap, Tilley Swamp, Wangolina, West Range, Wyomi

A number of Telstra services have also been affected and in some cases, adverse conditions are preventing us from reaching some areas. Our crews are working closely with emergency services to ensure our teams have access to areas of need as soon as they are deemed safe to enter, or under escort.

A number of Telstra services have also been affected and in some cases, adverse conditions are preventing us from reaching some areas. Our crews are working closely with emergency services to ensure our teams have access to areas of need as soon as they are deemed safe to enter, or under escort.

Customers who have had to evacuate their home or have lost their home are encouraged to call us132 203(then enter their full home phone number including area code when prompted) to report a fault and register for the assistance package.

Telstra’s relief packages can include the following:

Short term measures (for Telstra customers who have a short-term impact – temporary evacuation of premises or temporary fault):

  • Free use of Telstra public payphones in the affected areas
  • Free use of Telstra Air payphone hotspots in the affected areas
  • Free call diversion from an affected fixed home or business phone service to another fixed or mobile service of the customer’s choice, regardless of the carrier
  • Customers who use the free call diversion to divert their affected fixed home or business phone to their Telstra mobile service can also make local and STD® calls on their mobile at fixed-line rates, in accordance with their selected plan (limited to one designated Telstra mobile per affected household or business.
  • Affected Telstra mobile customers who do not have a Telstra home phone can receive a one-off credit to the value of $100 inc. GST (limited to one mobile phone per Telstra mobile account).

The above offers are applicable until network damage in the area due to fire is repaired, or while customers remain evacuated, for a maximum period of three months from the date of the fires.

Long-term measures (for Telstra customers who have suffered severe damage to or loss of their premises):

  • Free call diversion from the customer’s Telstra fixed phone service to another Australian fixed or mobile service of their choice, regardless of the carrier. This offer is applicable for a maximum period of 6 months from the date of the fire.
  • In addition, Telstra will apply a one-off credit to the value of $500 inc. GST to the customer’s Telstra fixed phone account to help cover the costs of the following, if required: Connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at one temporary residence
  • Re-connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at the customer’s original permanent premises

We have also made our payphones and Telstra Air hotspots (where available) free for anyone to use so you can stay in touch with family members around the country. Additionally, Telstra Mobile customers can browse a number of emergency information websites on an unmetered basis until further notice. For the full list, head to tel.st/unmetered.

Please remember to stay safe and listen to warnings from authorities.

For other states affected by the bushfires, customers can read more about the disaster relief packages that are available forVictoria,New South Wales, andQueensland.

Telstra Air phone booth
Telstra News |

Making payphones and Telstra Air free for all, and mobile emergency websites free for our customers

By Andrew Penn January 5, 2020

As bushfires around the country continue to take their toll, we know staying in touch with loved ones is vital. That’s why, until further notice, we’re making our payphone network around the country available to provide free local, national and standard mobile calls. We will also be allowing free use of the Telstra Air Wi-Fi network at locations where payphones are equipped to provide this.

As part of our existing disaster assistance packages for Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia, we are already providing free calling on our payphones and free use of our Telstra Air network.

However, given the scale of the emergency, we’ve made the decision to extend this across the county allowing all Australians to keep in touch with family and friends.

We also know how important it is to stay informed during this crisis. That’s why we’ll be making a number of key websites unmetered for Telstra mobile services. The following sites will not count towards consumer mobile data limits throughout the month of January:

State and Territory rural fire services for information about current fires and responses:

Government agencies for emergency response information:

Other critical information websites:

Our teams are continuing to work around the clock with emergency services to access infrastructure in order to get services back online. However, as I have said previously, this may take time given a lot of these areas are still inaccessible.

Again, I want to take this opportunity to commend our emergency services for their incredible work, and thank our Telstra technicians and staff on the ground in bushfire-affected areas for their tireless efforts to restore communications.