Telstra has rolled in a mobile exchange and a temporary satellite tower to Tumut as it works to restore communications services in the wake of a suspected arson attack that ripped through the town’s exchange on Friday.
About a dozen Telstra employees have worked throughout the night in an effort to restore services, with the hope of some mobile coverage coming online sometime today (Sunday).
Regional General Manager for Southern NSW Chris Taylor said the priority for the Telstra team had been to recover phone lines for the Hospital and emergency services along with coverage to service businesses.
“Over the next few days, we will progressively bring the services back up on the exchange building,” Mr Taylor said.
“We are still working on getting the power up and running and we still need to see if any equipment can still be used. We are also still assessing the extent of the damage but we will try to utilise any existing equipment if we can.
“The priority at this point is to get mobile services up and running first at the hospital and emergency services, and then we will progressively look at doing the fixed lines,” he said.
Mr Taylor said that the satellite cell should be able to support eftpos as transactions use very low data.
“At the moment, we don’t have the fibre transmission fixed so this cell on wheels will hopefully be able to provide temporary mobile coverage,” he said.
Mr Taylor said that he had an important message for those eagerly awaiting temporary connections to be fitted.
“With the temporary tower, because it’s satellite data, we’re asking customers to use it for voice calls only and try not to use the data because it could congest the network,” he said.
“The purpose of this one is so that people can make phone calls.”
He said that the overall outlook for total restoration of the service was difficult to measure.
“Going on my previous experience we had something happen at Warrnambool that was similar and it was 4 to 5 days to get things up and running. It depends on the damage that has been made to the existing equipment but we are hopeful to have it up and running as soon as possible,” he said.
“I think the other thing to mention in the meantime is that Telstra customers can still call triple zero,” he said. “We have roaming coverage from other carriers so triple 0 will always be available.”
NBN services could take some time to restore. Temporary broadband will be provided today via an NBN road-muster truck, for residents near its location.
A 50-year-old Tumut man was arrested after a fire ignited at the Telstra exchange in Fuller Street at about 3pm Friday.