Telstra wrestles with 2011 flood aftermath

Telstra wrestles with 2011 flood aftermath

Summary: The Queensland floods at the beginning of 2011 are still haunting Telstra, which has been trying to replace a cable that appears to have been damaged due to the destruction caused by the flood waters.

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TOPICS: Outage, Telcos, Telstra
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The Queensland floods at the beginning of 2011 are still haunting Telstra, which has been trying to replace a cable that appears to have been damaged due to the destruction caused by the flood waters.

Around 600 to 1000 Telstra customers in Bundaberg had been experiencing deteriorating services since December due to a faulty cable running under the Burnett River, according to Telstra Country Wide area general manager, Doug McClure. The company couldn't tell what exactly had happened as the cable was submerged, McClure said, but the theory was that the flood waters last year had led to the damage.

When the waters rushed down the river, they gouged out a lot of the river bed, possibly uncovering the cable where it lay, he said. Over time, debris and anchors, for example, may have hit the cable, damaging it and lowering the air pressure inside. And it was getting worse.

"The cable damage is obviously letting in more water," he said.

Telstra has decided to replace the cable, which meant digging a bore into the river bed, and the work is due to be completed next month. However, that wasn't the end of the telco's problems.

The new cable that was laid floated to the top of the river, leading Telstra to conclude that the contractor didn't make the bore deep enough.

"It didn't look like the first bore was put in enough into the river bed," he said.

With services continuing to deteriorate for the Bundaberg residents, Telstra decided to lay a temporary slave cable until the new master cable was ready. "We had to go to drastic measures," McClure said.

A total of 500 premises were connected by the end of the weekend to the slave cable, with all services to be up and running for Wednesday. The company still hopes to have the new permanent conduit laid by 17 February.

However, according to McClure, Queensland's recent heavy rainfall has not been a stress on the company's network, who said that lessons learned from the January 2011 floods had helped Telstra cope with high water.

"We haven't had a lot of faults due to the water like we did a year ago," he said. "There has been quite a lot of preparation done."

Optus also said it hasn't experienced any major impact on services due to flooding in NSW and Queensland. "There has been no major impact on services to customers at this time; however, our engineers are closely watching key areas to ensure services remain available," the company said in a statement. "Optus continues to invest in its network infrastructure and has undertaken extensive network preparations in anticipation of major weather activity during the summer period."

Topics: Outage, Telcos, Telstra

Suzanne Tindal

About Suzanne Tindal

Suzanne Tindal cut her teeth at ZDNet.com.au as the site's telecommunications reporter, a role that saw her break some of the biggest stories associated with the National Broadband Network process. She then turned her attention to all matters in government and corporate ICT circles. Now she's taking on the whole gamut as news editor for the site.

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