As the threat to far north Queensland posed by Tropical Cyclone Yasi eases, telecommunications companies have begun accounting for the damage to their network infrastructure.
The companies had spent much of yesterday preparing for the category 5 cyclone, which hit the Queensland coast late last night. While Yasi has since been downgraded to a category 2, the impact of the cyclone still damaged network infrastructure in the area.
Telstra reported this morning that 5000 fixed phones were not currently operating and around 25 mobile towers were without service on the network. In a statement, the company said that 450 network sites were affected due to a lack of power.
In a press conference this morning, Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said that a number of towers were running on backup generators that would not be reliable.
"Unless we can get them up on mains power, people can expect significant and severe disruptions to the mobile network and their mobile capacity," she said.
Telstra said that its first priorities were ensuring the safety of Telstra employees and assessing the impact on the network.
"While the network is holding up well under such extreme circumstances, these impacts will change when we get a wider picture throughout the day," the company said. "We have a big job ahead of us. We have more than 200 technicians on the ground ready to repair and restore the network in the region."
Fellow telco Optus said that 52 base stations of its mobile network were impacted by the cyclone and a number of the stations were running on backup batteries due to power failure. The company said its reef network between Brisbane and Cairns was also running on backup batteries; however, it added that its mobile network in Cairns and Townsville was still operational.
Vodafone released a statement this morning stating that its services had suffered in Cairns Bowen and Mackay due to power outages and transmission link failures.
"We have dispatched teams of engineers to affected areas, and they will be working to restore services where access is available," Vodafone said. "They have backup generators, fuel and other network equipment to hand and they will start to assess damage to individual sites and restore services as quickly as they can."