South-west phone blackout renews call for NBN

The head of a south-west lobby group has called for an early rollout of the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Businesses were brought to their knees yesterday morning as phone lines and internet connections went dead. Some closed their doors while others were restricted to handling cash only.

"This incident really highlights our vulnerability in probably the starkest possible way," Great South Coast Group executive officer Karen Foster said.

"It just highlights the absolute importance of an earlier rollout of the national broadband network."

Ms Foster said it reinforced the need to roll out the faster NBN. "We've effectively got all our eggs in one basket with no back-up system, which is appalling."

Ms Foster said the south-west was among only a few growing regional areas in Australia and risked falling behind if it lacked the critical communications infrastructure.

As uncertainty surrounding the blackout extended into yesterday afternoon, she warned the outage could have long-lasting effects.

"We want to get something in place to ensure that this doesn't happen again."

She said there were fewer options for the region as telecommunications shunned country areas.

"We don't have the population base to attract that type of interest from the other providers and it just leaves us completely vulnerable to something like this happening."

The Great South Coast Group represents six local governments, including Warrnambool, Moyne, Corangamite, Glenelg, Southern Grampians and Colac Otway.

Ms Foster said members would now review the crisis before lobbying for action.

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