Fire cuts telecommunication services
GETTING caught in a disaster zone without being able to make phone calls, send text messages or connect to the internet sounds like the stuff of nightmares.
But that's exactly what happened to some Optus and Telstra customers in the Busbys Flat and Rappville areas as a result of the bush fires.
Telstra confirmed its exchange tower in Rappville had been destroyed in the blaze and as a result there are up to 160 fixed line services affected.
Regional General Manager Mike Marom said Telstra was deploying a mobile exchange on wheels to provide temporary connectivity for customers.
"Rappville has been declared a Red Zone, which means our technicians cannot enter the area," Mr Marom said.
"We have crews on standby in Casino and are working closely with emergency services to enter the impacted areas once it's safe to do so.
"Once our technicians can get in and have a look, we will be in a better position to provide restoration time-frames.
Mr Marom said the company had activated the disaster relief package for Telstra customers in Rappville, and were also working closely with the Richmond Valley Council to do all we can to support the relief effort.
While Optus would not confirm the damage to its exchange tower, a spokeswoman said some customers across parts of Busbys Flat and Rappville may be experiencing disruptions to their mobile call, text and data services due to power outages in the area.
"Optus' network operations team are working closely with the relevant emergency services and power authorities to get services restored as a priority," she said.
"Regardless of the service provider and in the instance of an emergency, residents should still dial 000.
"Where there is a mobile service outage during an emergency, Optus recommends television, radio, the internet and emergency services as vital sources of information.
"Optus customers wishing to discuss financial assistance can call our Customer Care team on 133 937."
Telstra assistance package for Northern NSW announced
Telstra has announced an assistance package for its residential and small business customers in New South Wales who have lost services due to fire.
Telstra Regional General Manager Mike Marom said bushfires in Northern New South Wales had affected Telstra's mobile and fixed line services, and the assistance package would provide customers with access to free and interim services during the recovery period.
Areas including; Drake, Tabulam, Ewingar, Busbys Flat, Wyan, Rappville Ellangowan, Myrtle Creek, Bungawalbin and Jackadgery are all eligible for customer assistance.
"We know that a number of our customers are displaced or have lost their homes, and we understand that now it is more important than ever to be able to reach out to friends and family," Mr Marom said.
"That's why we are making this package available - so customers can still be connected in their time of need," Mr Marom said.
"As well as supporting customers, the assistance package is will also provide the wider community with free calls and free Telstra Air Wi-Fi through local payphones.
Customers who have had to evacuate their home or have lost their home are encouraged to call Telstra on 132 203 (then enter their full home phone number including area code when prompted) to report a fault and register for the assistance package.