MORE than 100 major businesses and council offices across the south-west lost telephone connection this morning after a new fault in Telstra's Warrnambool exchange.
Just as technicians were finalising their painstaking task of rewiring the last domestic landline connections the ISDN (integrated services digital network) crashed at 9.30am.
An early calculation estimated there were between 120 and 150 landlines impacted and Telstra spokesman James Howe said customers as far as Portland were affected.
"We are working as quickly as possible on an interim solution and during the next few days will re-parent the service through South Melbourne to take pressure off the Warrnambool exchange," he said.
"Hardware was damaged by soot from the Warrnambool fire and is not running at full capacity.
"We'll clean components piece by piece and if we have to put in new equipment we will."
Meanwhile technicians used a giant crane to install new gear on the mobile phone tower at the Warrnambool exchange to increase data carrying capacity by 60 per cent.
"This upgrade had been planned to happen sometime in the first half of next year, but because more people have been using their mobile phones during the outage and we had the technicians down here we decided to install the equipment this week," Mr Howe said.