10 May 2023

Phone service restored in NPA and Torres Strait

| Matt Nicholls
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3pm FRIDAY UPDATE:From Rachel Cliffe, Regional General Manager for Telstra in QLD:

“All fixed line and mobile services are back online in parts of the Northern Peninsula and Torres Strait*.

“Our technician was able to successfully replace the part and restore services this afternoon.

“We thank residents and businesses for their patience and apologise for the interruption this outage caused.

“We will continue to monitor the area to make sure it keeps operating as per normal.

*For clarity, the communities with restored services include Iama Island (Yam Island), Injinoo, Seisia, Umagico Thursday Island, Coconut Island and Sue Island.

UPDATE:Telstra says the telecommunications outage impacting the Northern Peninsula Area and Torres Strait won’t be fixed until Friday afternoon at the earliest.

A Telstra spokesperson told Cape York Weekly on Thursday morning that an emergency delivery of parts would arrive in Far North Queensland on Friday morning and then be flown to the NPA.

“Our technician will then need to fly to the Sailor Creek Crossing site via helicopter (which we expect will be Friday afternoon),” the spokesperson said.

EARLIER:Residents in the Northern Peninsula Area and most of the Torres Strait are unable to make emergency phone calls as a Telstra outage enters its third day.

The outage was first reported on Tuesday and a Telstra technician could not fix the problem yesterday afternoon.

Rachel Cliffe, the regional general manager for Telstra in Queensland, confirmed the issue to Cape York Weekly.

“Fixed line and mobile services for communities in the Northern Peninsula Area and some locations in the Torres Strait have been impacted by a power outage which damaged telecommunications equipment at Sailor Creek Crossing,” she said in a statement.

“A technician was dispatched to the site via helicopter (on Wednesday morning) – the earliest possible timing given the site isn’t accessible by road.

“Our technician is working to fix the problem as quickly as possible and we will provide updates as soon as they come to hand.

“We understand this is frustrating for residents and businesses and we apologise for the disruption.

“Telstra customers that don’t have a working landline or mobile service in the area may not be able to call Triple Zero.”

It’s a major safety concern for the region, especially during the cyclone season.

However, Telstra’s track record is appalling when it comes to delivering reliable telecommunications in Cape York.

Outages are frequent in the wet season. Over the past couple of months, phone calls have regularly been dropping out in Weipa and other communities.

Seisia resident Talei Elu raised the issue with the PM on Wednesday evening.

Seisia resident Talei Elu, who won Queensland’s Young Australian of the Year Award, said she raised the issue with Prime Minister Anthony Albanese last night ahead of the Australian of the Year Awards.

In her Facebook post, she wrote: “Got the opportunity to tell the Prime Minister about our region wide Telstra cell service outage affecting residents across the NPA and Torres Strait.

“It was the second day of school for kids and their education got disrupted, businesses are getting back in the swing and we’re unable to operate fully, people still need to make 000 calls and yet are unable. Took it straight to the top.”

The outage has caused havoc in the business community. The Umagico supermarket had to close, while EFTPOS has been out at most premises.

Even accessing cash has been a problem as the ATMs in the NPA and Torres Strait rely on the internet.

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