Big phone fix nears end

TELSTRA has beefed up its Australian call centre to handle problems triggered by the south-west phone blackout.

Up to 55 staff have been rostered for an around-the-clock response as customers grapple with getting back to normal as 100,000 telecommunications services are progressively restored.

“We’ve put on more staff in Brisbane to handle the calls on 1800 073 900 and then we despatch technicians on the ground to fix the problems,” Telstra’s corporate affairs manager James Howe said yesterday.

About 65,000 landlines, 15 broadband connections and more than 80 mobile phone towers were disabled by a fire in the main Warrnambool exchange on November 22, affecting thousands of households and businesses from Lismore to Portland and north to Edenhope.

  By late yesterday technicians still had 1200 internet ADSL lines and 3000 landlines to connect, aiming to have all   back by tomorrow morning. Of the internet lines still out 1000 were in Warrnambool and the balance were in Heathmere, Tyrendarra, Purnim and Woolsthorpe. Almost all the silent landlines were in Warrnambool.

A team of more than 100 technicians has been working non-stop to rebuild the exchange with new cables and intricate equipment. However, as links are rewired one-by-one some customers are reporting crossed lines with businesses being connected to private numbers and vice-versa.

One Garvoc resident told The Standard nearly all properties in the small town had their phone lines crossed.

The new equipment includes an additional 60 per cent capacity for the 3G wireless network in central Warrnambool and a full upgrade to ADSL2.

“This will be a small silver lining on a very dark cloud,” Mr Howe said. 

The fire, which burnt only about 15 per cent of the Koroit Street exchange, caused severe damage to adjacent cables and key transmission and switching equipment.

Other national providers, including Optus, Aussie Broadband and TPG, also had landline equipment in the exchange.

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