'There will be a national review on this': Telstra faces massive repair bill

Australia’s best technicians have been enlisted to help restore Warrnambool’s communications hub, which was disabled by fire.

The repair bill is expected to stretch into the millions of dollars.

Mobile phone services are being progressively restored around the district, but it could be weeks before all landlines are operating again.

Truck loads of  specialised equipment is being brought in to replace damaged components of the hub, which is a parent node for smaller exchanges throughout the region stretching from Lismore to Portland.

Mobile customers in Portland, Coleraine, Edenhope, Port Fairy and Koroit as well as some Warrnambool areas are back in service this afternoon, and more will be brought back online during the weekend.

Landline links to emergency services and at-risk individuals are also high on the repair priority list.

The 4.30am fire on Thursday knocked out 60,000 landlines, 15,000 internet customers and more than 80 mobile phone towers.

Equipment used by Optus, Aussie Broadband, TPG and other wholesale carriers was also disabled.

It was one of the most severe outages in Australia in recent memory.

Telstra’s Melbourne-based regional systems director Bob Beresford said it was unique.

“In my 33-year career I’ve never seen fire take out a main exchange before,” he said.

“There will be a national review on this.”

The interior of the burned-out Warrnambool exchange.

The interior of the burned-out Warrnambool exchange.