Victorian Bushfires causes havoc on telcos

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Telecommunication companies Telstra and Optus have seen their communication infrastructure gone as flooding in northern Queensland and massive bushfires in the State of Victoria; with Telstra expecting the bill to repair the damaged services to be in the millions.

“The immense human tragedy of Victoria’s bushfires has shocked all Australians and, on behalf of Telstra, I wish to offer my deepest sympathies to those who have lost their family, friends and homes,” Telstra’s chief executive Sol Trujillo said in a statement.

“The bushfires have also caused substantial damage to Telstra’s telephone exchange and base station infrastructure, as well as to cabling. Thousands of phone lines and broadband internet connections are down.”

The bushfires saw 18 base stations from Telstra have gone down, with connections to five exchanges being lost. As well, thousands of PSTN and ADSL connections were down. However, the extent of the damage may not be revealed until it has been declared safe by the firefighters.

Optus has also seen some of its infrastructure go up in flames because of the bushfire, despite putting up a number of mobile sites. It has sixteen base stations damaged or inoperable because of power outages in many locations affected.

Both companies will be providing several services to those affected, with Telstra changing the rates to mobile customers to be on par with fixed line customers, and free reconnections and call diversions. Optus will be providing customers who have lost their homes “zero billing” for the next three months, effective immediately, and will be giving away handsets for those who have had their services disrupted.

Telstra has also announced that it will cancel a victim’s BigPond service with free email address reservation for three months, but will also give free reconnection for the victim’s residence or business within a 12-month period. A $50 credit will also be available for those who do not have a fixed line account, but do have a mobile account.

Vodafone, which announced its merger with 3 today, has said that 19 of its base stations have been affected, but it is unknown what services that they will provide to the victims.

Please Donate to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. You can call them on 1800 811 700, or donate online via their secure donations form.

Image from: becmacka/ABC Contribute