10 May 2023

Cape community upset with Telstra over outages

| Matt Nicholls
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The remote Cape York community lost telecommunications once again last week, with an outage lasting several days before Telstra flew in to fix it.

The cause of the problem? They ran out of fuel for the generator.

According to Telstra, a site at Wattle Hill, north of Lockhart River, is powered by solar, with a fuel generator as back-up.

Because of heavy cloud cover in the Cape, the generator had been working more often than usual and ran out of fuel.

Lockhart River mayor Wayne Butcher said he was sick of his community being neglected.

“Telecommunications are one of the most important things outside of food and water,” he said.

“It’s a safety issue in the event of an accident or disaster.”

Cr Butcher said that even when Telstra services were working, the quality of mobile coverage and internet was second rate.

“It’s never been good and it never will be until we get fibre.

“Unfortunately we are just a small community without many customers.”

Telstra said bad weather made the outage longer than anticipated.

“This disaster season has presented ongoing challenges in the region, and we thank the residents, mayor, CEO and council of Lockhart River for their patience when weather interrupts vital services in remote communities like theirs,” a spokesperson said.

“The site that was impacted runs off solar, battery storage, and a backup fuel generator with a 500L capacity.

“We take our responsibility to our customers very seriously by prioritising fixing outages like these, and conversations are ongoing with all stakeholders about how we can maintain and improve the strength and resiliency of our network.”

Telstra services dropped out on Sunday and were only restored on Thursday after a helicopter was flown into the Wattle Hill site with fuel in tow.

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