June 14, 2018

All residences and businesses without an NBN connection lost access to landline phones, mobile phones and internet services from about 12.30pm Wednesday to about 1am Friday.

Berrigan businesses are demanding answers after the town was left without any means to communicate for two days last week.

All residences and businesses without an NBN connection lost access to landline phones, mobile phones and internet services from about 12.30pm Wednesday to about 1am Friday.

It included severing any communications connection to emergency services.

Businesses were unable to trade, and some local businesses were forced to work from the homes of staff members who have an NBN connection.

Businesses say they are still waiting on any correspondence from Telstra about what caused the outage, why it took so long to be rectified and any guarantees it will not happen again.

The company responded to queries from the Southern Riverina News and said the cause was a damaged optic fibre cable caused by an ‘‘independent third party’’.

Telstra also said it would consider requests for compensation on a ‘‘case by case’’ basis and confirmed 900 residents and businesses were affected.

Berrigan business owner and Berrigan and District Development Association president John Lane said the outage caused significant disruption for the whole town, and particularly businesses.

He said he was perplexed as to why it took so long for the disconnection to be fixed.

‘‘Every report we could find about the issues basically said to ring Telstra,’’ Mr Lane said.

‘‘‘I don’t know how you’re meant to ring Telstra when there are no connections.

‘‘There was no time that I was aware of Telstra ever told us what the problem was or that they had located the problem.’’

Mr Lane said for many local businesses, money would have been lost due to the suspension of trade relating to the outage.

‘‘I did receive second hand reports that other businesses were finding it challenging and they had lost a lot of sales, and that the hospital and probably Amaroo were finding it tough.

‘‘We personally (at Dawmac Industries) lost a lot of sales.

‘‘Customers were ringing our Finley office to find out if we were still open.

‘‘In some cases customers were buying the product in Berrigan and then driving to Finley to pay for it.

‘‘We handed out dockets with purchases but we still needed to put a lot of trust in people that they would eventually pay for the product.

‘‘Not all businesses can do that. I don’t think the chemist was going to let people walk out without paying.

‘‘The IGA supermarket put out a sign saying it couldn’t take eftpos transactions.’’

The communications outage forced Berrigan Shire Council to close its offices for the duration.

Administration officer Susie Escott said she and another staff members ran basic administration tasks from her Berrigan home, which has an NBN connection.

‘‘Because I’m connected to the NBN and our office isn’t, we really had no other option but to work from there,’’ Mrs Escott said.

‘‘It was quite easy working from home but not ideal.

‘‘We told the staff they can come and go as they please if they needed to make a phone call.

‘‘There was a plan to go to Finley and work from the library, but it wouldn’t have been ideal.’’

Telstra Area general manager Steve Tinker said the damage was not a network fault, but refused to address questions about why it took so long to rectify the outage.

‘‘We apologise to our customers for the disruption to their landline, ADSL and mobile services caused by third party damage to an optic fibre cable,’’ he said in response to questions from the Southern Riverina News.

‘‘Our technicians worked as quickly as possible to repair the cable.

‘‘When planning works, Dial Before You Dig is the essential first step you must take to ensure any ground breaking activity such as digging is safe and damage free.’’

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