NETWORKS DOWN

Residents across the region vented their anger last week with mobile phone services disrupted from Tuesday to Thursday and power outages during Friday’s 40-degree heat leaving many sweltering.
Seven days of planned works to the Kyneton area mobile phone network were abandoned on Friday after Telstra reassessed their suitability going into the day’s forecast heat and Total Fire Ban conditions.
But for three days residents were unable to access SMS or telephone services and many retailers were without EFTPOS facilities, requiring their customers to withdraw cash from ATMs or bank branches.
The works were postponed until this coming Wednesday when disruption to the network will likely continue for a further two days.
“We’re aiming to complete the work as quickly as we can but we always allow enough time to get it done,” a Telstra spokesperson said.
Telstra advised its customers of the planned works via text message on Tuesday, however many of those SMS messages were not received until the following day due to the reduced level of coverage.
Local business owner Fiona Brownbill of Alice in Fabricland said shopkeepers had lost multiple sales and complained to Telstra.
“I rang Telstra and they’ve offered me $32. It was a waste of my time and I was on the phone for an hour to try to get this,” Ms Brownbill said.
“We live in a high fire-risk area and my children were unable to contact me because they’re at home in Woodend and I’m here at the shop, and my husband is a firefighter and if he’s called out there’s nobody home for the kids.
“We could have worked around it if we’d known.”
The Telstra spokesperson said businesses should contact their banks to seek information on using other connectivity if they experienced issues with cellular data.
“They may be able to use their fixed line/wifi/nbn internet to connect their EFTPOS terminals but they need to talk to their bank.”
The spokesperson said compensation to business customers was considered on a case-by-case basis and customers should contact Telstra to discuss this.
Power outages caused even greater frustration on Friday as Powercor crews worked to restore power to thousands of customers across central Victoria.
A number of extreme weather events impacted the network, including high temperatures, strong winds, thunderstorms and dust storms.
The hardest hit were the Kyneton and Castlemaine areas with some homes without power for 12 hours or more.

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