TELSTRA technicians worked through the night in a bid to have all ADSL lines from the damaged Warrnambool exchange in action by this morning.
“We are down to the final few hundred,” corporate affairs manager James Howe told The Standard yesterday evening.
“There are about 2000 landlines to come back and we are confident of restoring them all through the weekend.
“It’s been a huge rebuilding task and I don’t think anyone could criticise the effort put in by our techs.
“Work on getting the exchange back to normal will continue, but we hope to be able to give the workers a break at Christmas if services are stable by then.”
The November 22 fire inside the Koroit Street exchange knocked out 100,000 services across the south-west and has been described as a disaster for businesses and householders.
Medical priority customers who were switched over to a temporary satellite service after the outage will be brought back onto normal landlines from next week.
“We will make the switch between midnight and 6am to minimise inconvenience on customers,” Mr Howe said.
“There will be an increased presence of Telstra staff for the foreseeable future.
“It’s going to take time on the technical and business side to work through all the issues with compensation and fault fixing.”
Mr Howe urged customers experiencing technical faults to call the special help team on 1800 073 900.
“Call centre staff have all been made aware of the Warrnambool issue,” he said.
“There will be no charges for technician call-outs and bills have been frozen during this period of fixing damaged services. Again we apologise for the disaster.”
Mr Howe said about 600 compensation packs were handed out after a public forum in Warrnambool on Thursday night.
The packs have application forms for claims under $1000 requiring a statutory declaration and for claims over $1000 which require supporting documents.
Two Warrnambool accounting companies have been engaged to help applications process necessary information and Telstra has promised payments within 15 days of a claim being lodged.
However, it has advised it will not accept double-dipping.
More forums will be held next week at Portland, Hamilton, Cobden, Balmoral and Casterton with Telstra representatives answering questions by disgruntled customers and explaining the compensation process.
On December 17 a federal parliamentary inquiry instigated by Communications Minister Stephen Conroy will be held in Warrnambool at the Lighthouse Theatre