District hit hard as Telstra goes down
CASTERTON families, emergency services and businesses went in to meltdown late last week when the south-west’s telephone and internet services were cut following a fire at the Warrnambool telephone exchange early Thursday morning.
More than 60,000 people were affected as chaos hit the south-west business and residential sectors because of the complete breakdown of all telephone-related services were cut. Only those people with non-Telstra mobile telephones or satellite internet services were spared the pain.
Most Casterton businesses reported that their customers were unable to use their EFTPOS machines on Thursday and some banks experienced problems as well. The local FoodWorks supermarket had problems with their machines as well.
However, some relief was insight by the late Friday and the weekend when some EFTPOS machines started to function again.
The two local bank ATMs were kept busy for the last two days of the business week as customers sought cash to complete their weekend shopping requirements.
The Casterton Kindergarten shopping spree organisers were concerned that shoppers would not be able to access their credit cards during the shopping spree on Friday night, but most shoppers were able to use their cards at most venues.
A senior Telstra manager said on Thursday that it could be a few days before a solution was found. However, Casterton still faced a blackout at the weekend and the only telephone calls that could be made to areas outside of the town boundary were by non-Telstra mobile services or satellite internet users.
Many residents were stunned to discover they no longer had access to the internet or outside telephone lines.
One disgruntled resident, who did not wish to be named, told the News that he was concerned about the lack of communications in the district, especially those people who needed special care or emergency help.
“I am fine, I have an Optus mobile telephone and I can still ring people outside the district,” he said.
“My landline cannot be used to ring anyone outside of the town boundary. That means I cannot even ring someone in Merino.
“What about the people who live outside the town boundary who have no mobile access because there are not enough towers in the Casterton area, and they want to contact a family member for help or something similar?
“What do they do? It has been four days now since the system went down and I know everyone is doing their level best, but it just shows you how dependant we have become on technology.
“Fortunately, the 000 service was still available but not much else. Without the landline service, the town’s banking and business sector was on its knees for some time until some service was resurrected.
“It makes you think when something like this happens,” he said.