Telecom New Zealand's recently launched XT mobile service failed across much of the country earlier today.
The 6am outage affected services south of the central lakeside resort of Taupo. Tens of thousands of XT users have been denied access to mobile broadband, phonecalls and the sending and receiving of text messages. The outage has not hit customers' ability to contact emergency services.
XT services north of Taupo and CDMS services nationally were unaffected. The outage has been blamed on a network component failure at Telecom's Christchurch depot in the South Island, which controls all Telecom's XT services south of Taupo.
Telecom spokesman Nick Brown told ZDNet.com.au he did not have details of the technical component but the company would issue another update shortly.
Telecom has admitted the breach has been taking longer to restore than expected, but services should resume "later today."
The company has been alerting users and media through Twitter, as well as media releases and updates on the company website. Corporate customers have also been informed of developments through the telco's IT services arm, Gen-i.
Brown said Telecom had started using twitter to message customers in the "past couple of months". "The most important issue is using all the communications we can," he said..
There would also be an inquiry into the outage. "Every time the network comes down, we carry out a formal inquiry," Brown added. The outage has been condemned by Ernie Newman, chief executive of the Telecom Users of New Zealand, who blogged his outrage from Europe this morning.
"This is the 21st century. Networks may have widespread faults that last a few seconds, or longer localised ones due to weather or cable damage. But the days of lengthy widespread disruptions like this should be way gone. The economic cost is massive!" he said.
Commentator and journalist Chris Keal of New Zealand's National Business Review said the outage highlighted XT's "Achilles' heel" — its sole reliance on 3G.
Technology blogger Lance Wicks also branded the outage unacceptable and posted a distinctive map showing the affected areas.