Telstra working to keep locals connected as severed cable cuts phone and internet service for 45 customers in Toronto and Blackalls Park

NO SERVICE: Telstra said 45 households in the Toronto and Blackalls Park area had been impacted by an outage affecting landline phones and ADSL internet service. Picture: Rob Homer.
NO SERVICE: Telstra said 45 households in the Toronto and Blackalls Park area had been impacted by an outage affecting landline phones and ADSL internet service. Picture: Rob Homer.

TELSTRA suspects a severed cable is the cause of the ongoing outage that has seen 45 households in the Toronto and Blackalls Park area without phone and internet service since February 7.

A Telstra spokesperson told the Lakes Mail the outage meant landline phones and ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber line) internet connections had been impacted.

The cause of the outage is being investigated.

"This outage currently affects fixed line and ADSL connections for 45 customers," the spokesperson said.

"But we are working as quickly as we can to have the service restored whilst ensuring the safety of our customers and field staff in these unprecedented times.

"We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

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Telstra said it had taken steps to ensure the affected residents had access to alternative phone services during the outage.

"We understand how important remaining connected is, especially in the times we find ourselves in, so interim measures have been put in place to make sure customers still have the ability to make and receive calls," the spokesperson said.

"These include such measures as diverting landlines to mobile, providing mobile devices or, in cases where there is no mobile coverage, satellite phones."

Blackalls Park resident, Penny Davis, 69, said the outage had impacted her home business.

She said the outage was also unsettling for older residents feeling anxious about the coronavirus pandemic and social isolation.

Mrs Davis said she'd spent more than $1000 on a new laptop computer and technical support in her efforts to get back online.

Telstra, in the meantime, had diverted her landline phone to a mobile phone, which the telco supplied, and provided her with a Telstra Smart Modem.

But she was not happy with Telstra's handling of the outage.

"Since the outage happened in the first week of February, they've told me that the reconnection date would be February 14, and then March 3, then March 30 and now they're saying April 30," she said.

Mrs Davis said she phoned the Telecommunications Ombudsman over the matter but ironically received only a voicemail message advising that the phone line was out.

She said the message included advice to send an email or contact the ombudsman via the website - two things she was unable to do because of the outage.

"And Telstra sent me four emails at a time I had no access to emails. It's very frustrating," she said.

The national broadband network is being rolled out in the district, including on the other side of Mrs Davis's street.

"But the people with the NBN don't have a problem," she said.

Mrs Davis, who runs Mudlark Studio, had been a stall holder at the Handmade in the Hunter Markets, in Pokolbin, until they were closed due to COVID-19 measures.

Some of those market stall holders had migrated to the 'Buy from a Bush Business' online marketplace, on Facebook, she said.

"I applied and was accepted just when our connection went down."

It meant other artisans got in ahead of her on the page, posting details about their products and images of their wares.

Mrs Davis said she felt she had lost potential customers because of the delay.

Meanwhile, the Telstra spokesperson said a crew was scheduled to inspect the damaged cable "in the coming days".

"We really value our customers' patience while we work on getting their service restored," they said.

"Customers who have logged a fault with their service will also be credited a pro-rata amount for the period they were without a service."

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