Agony of life offline

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Out of line: Preparatory work for the coming of the NBN in Mt Eliza has seen cables damaged and hundreds of homes without landlines or internet connections for days. Picture: Telstra

Out of line: Preparatory work for the coming of the NBN in Mt Eliza has seen cables damaged and hundreds of homes without landlines or internet connections for days. Picture: Telstra

HUNDREDS of Mt Eliza homes have been without landline phones since 10 May, Mother’s Day, after Telstra main cables were damaged.

Telstra told customers the service was due to be repaired by Thursday 14 May but has since revised the date three more times – 19, 22 and 27 May.

Some residents are furious with the way Telstra has handled the outage and a Facebook page used by Mt Eliza residents to complain or comment about current events is steaming with complaints as well as tips on how to work around the outage.

After days of to-ing and fro-ing with the carrier, one frustrated resident posted: “It’s like: how dare I keep calling them. Also ticked them off on their incident reporting. Hey Telstra, it’s NOT fixed.”

The damage has meant some residents have had painfully slow internet speeds while others have had to obtain wireless “dongles” to get back online. Telstra has supplied mobile phones for some customers and promised credit and refunds for others. It seems the squeaky wheel gets the most oil.

One mother wrote: “Have had no landline or internet since Monday. Telstra told me today a copper cable had been cut and would be fixed by 22/5. Tell that to 4 frustrated children! They suggested I buy a dongle and then take it back to get a refund after the service had been restored. I wasn’t so sure about that so am waiting till Friday – although kids going crazy.”

Another posted: “Have had no broadband for over a week. Foxtel have said that we will have a credit of one month of phone/broadband. Getting fed up now. We were told it would be repaired by the 19th. I’ve seen where Telstra are working on the fault on the Nepean Highway.”

And this: “Yes, it’s killing me #firstworldproblems, lol. I was on phone to iiNet for 5 hours last week all to find out if it was the phone line. Contacted Telstra 7 days later waiting for my “24 hour” call back, lol. Supposedly going by BP, lines should be back up by Friday. Some duffer cut a wire by accident.”

“I have some very frustrated teenagers here,” wrote another.

Residents were told by Telstra that 1000 metres of main cable had to be repaired. Service pits were full of water, which had delayed the work.

In the first days of the outage, the busy BP service station near Kunyung Rd – the only servo on the Nepean Hwy between Frankston and Mornington – was processing payments, as one resident posted, “with the old school credit card slot thing. Then they will process later when the lines are fixed”.

Another resident explained on Facebook how copper wires to homes work: “In some cases ADSL will continue to work but slowly in the absence of a dial tone. There are four wires that come into the house. Two are used for one line, the other two are used for a secondary line if you have one. You only need one of the two wires to be working to have [the] internet.”

A resident who runs an IT business from home told The News they had spent hours organising a replacement phone and internet dongle with Telstra and then a top-up for the dongle a week later.

Customers of other carriers such as iPrimus, iiNet and TPG are also affected as they use Telstra’s infrastructure.

Late on Friday, Telstra area general manager Vicky Allen said “return of services is expected tomorrow [last Saturday]”.

“Work is currently being carried out in Mt Eliza in preparation for the rollout of the NBN. Unfortunately this work has resulted in damage to some of our cables, which in turn has impacted about 600 customer services.

“Replacing cable is quite complex and time-consuming as we need to cut and remove the damaged cable, source and install the new cable, and then connect each joint of the new cable with the existing cable.”

First published in the Mornington News – 26 May 2015

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