What’s going on with telecommunications in flooded Queensland and NSW

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Australia’s east coast has entered the second week of devastating flooding along the coast, with widespread power and telecommunications blackouts in affected areas.

The following information from each supplier is intended to be as up-to-date as possible and will change when we know more.


By midday, Optus had 38 sites in Queensland and 26 mobile sites in New South Wales. The total number of affected sites is decreasing and the telecom operator said that 55 of the sites are individual sites. It has 8 generator sites.

The company has deployed temporary satellite-powered units (satcat) to Lismore and Ballina, with another en route to Nimbin. These units have a range of 3-4 km and given their location and local topography it is possible that even if a satcat is nearby reception has not improved.

In updated figures for Saturday, the company had 32 sites in Queensland and 19 in New South Wales. Of the 17 sites he had restored since Friday, 3 were in Ballina.

As of Sunday, the phone company still had 32 sites in Queensland and New South Wales had 21. Optus said it had restored 4 sites but lost 6 to overnight storms. 48 of the 53 sites down are autonomous.

On Wednesday, he said there were 25 sites in Queensland and 8 in New South Wales, with 5 sites on generators. Optus added that the satcat had been pulled from Lismore, with the one operating in Nimbin due to be taken out of service on Wednesday evening, and half of its affected Queensland sites were dependent on third-party restoration of services.

Optus said on Thursday it had brought 335 sites back online since the flood and currently had 22 sites in Queensland, including 4 on generators and 4 sites in New South Wales.


The incumbent telecom operator said on Thursday it had technicians on the ground in locations it could access.

“Many areas however are still inaccessible due to flooding or without power. We are working with electricity and local authorities to access affected areas so that we can get to work getting services back online,” said the society.

“We have temporary mobile facilities which can be used in appropriate situations. Our technicians were able to install a temporary mobile satellite service in Kilkivan, near Gympie in Queensland, to provide coverage to the community after one of our cables was washed away.

“Temporary mobile installations have the same limitations of needing electricity and access to an area to be deployed and we are carefully and constantly assessing where and when they may be able to help.”

On Friday evening, the telecom operator said it had 84 sites “affected” as some were still providing coverage while others were offline, a reduction from Thursday’s 135. He also said he had restored LTE and 5G coverage in Ballina and Lismore.

On Sunday afternoon, Telstra said it had backed up 80% of base stations and 75% of landlines excluding NBN services had also been restored. From a peak of 250 sites, it now had 26 mobile sites in NSW and 27 in Queensland, with 9,625 phone and ADSL lines down.

“Many areas however are still inaccessible due to flooding and damage to road infrastructure or are without power and we need both to assess if there has been damage to our network. Unfortunately, we have seen significant damage to part of our network, which will take time to fix,” the telecom operator said.

As of Monday morning, Telstra said it had more than 1,100 technicians and staff in the field, and 28 towers in NSW and 22 in Queensland, with just over 8,000 landlines affected.

Telstra said on Thursday it had 10 sites in Queensland, 9 in northern New South Wales and 12 in northwest Sydney. As a result of the rains, the number of fixed lines impacted rose from 6,554 on Wednesday to 7,925 on Thursday.

On March 12, the phone company said it had 4 sites in NSW, 9 in Queensland and 5 in north-west Sydney. The number of downed landlines was 6,922. He added that there were no isolated communities.


On Friday, the company responsible for the National Broadband Network said it saw the total number of offline premises rise to 74,000 in northern New South Wales, while southeast Queensland trended lower with 33,200 offline services.

“Where possible, we are deploying generators to the area to support connectivity and will continue to work with emergency authorities to deploy more generators to areas as the waters recede,” the company said. mentioned on Twitter.

Earlier in the week, NBN said 56,000 premises in the NSW Northern Rivers region were offline due to the loss of power from the Fiber Access Node (FAN) in Woodburn.

“This site was running on battery power, but the battery is drained. Due to flooding, it is not possible to access the site safely,” NBN mentioned.

“The site is owned and operated by a third party and we are working closely with them to restore services as soon as it is secure.”

Those affected by the FAN outage extended as far north as Queensland and included Tweed Heads, Kingscliff, Currumbin Valley, Byron Bay, Brunswick Heads, Ballina, Lennox Head and Evans Head.

NBN said on Thursday it had 14 generators on standby for NSW to use once the waters receded, and generators have been installed at Caboolture, Barellan Point, Grantham, Munruben, Milton and Jimboomba.

‘We have a Muster truck arriving at Skennars Head tomorrow morning from Queensland as this is the only access we currently have in the community,’ a spokesperson said Thursday afternoon.

“We also have Muster Trucks on standby, but access remains limited in many areas.”

The company added that it had installed disaster satellite dishes in all locations covered by the first round of deployment, which did not include areas of NSW.

When announced, NBN said it would complete the NSW facilities in 2021, but the spokesperson said it was continuing to “roll out phase two of the facilities”.

“Installation sites are designated by state and territory governments,” a spokesperson told ZDNet.

“To date, 504 services have been installed and active across the country. This includes a casino fire control center in northern New South Wales, which is currently impacted by floodwaters. The service is operational.

“We also have services installed in Coffs Harbour, Wauchope and Kempsey.”

NBN further said it has a Sky Muster truck at Ballina Coast High School, which provides connectivity to an evacuation center, as well as the deployment of five hybrid power cubes to power fixed wireless towers and eight generators.

The company added that it had been informed of scammers impersonating NBN and demanding money to speed up the restoration of service.

“It’s unthinkable that scammers are using this as an opportunity to target people and communities,” NBN said.

“Please note that NBN will never contact customers to request payment or any other financial information and we urge anyone who receives one of these calls to report it to Scamwatch immediately.”

On Monday afternoon, NBN said around 9,200 locals were affected in northern New South Wales and it had set up satellite Wi-Fi hotspots at the leisure and Alstonville Entertainment, Ballina Sports and Leisure Centre, Nimbin Town Hall and Coraki Uniting. Church.

In Queensland, the company has 11,840 locals unable to connect.

“The majority of impacts resulting from significant damage to NBN infrastructure remain around Gympie, Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Greater Brisbane (particularly western suburbs such as Indooroopilly, Yeerongpilly and St Lucia),” the company said on Twitter. .

“These faults are often caused by water damage to individual properties and require a visit from an NBN technician. We are experiencing an increase in demand for calls and materials and there may be some delay while we work on it.”

By Tuesday afternoon, the number in New South Wales had fallen to 5,800 locals – mainly around Ballina, Murwillimbah, Coraki, Lismore and Woodburn – and in Queensland it had fallen to 10,186 locals.

TPG Telecom

The company behind Vodafone Australia said it was facing an outage in flood-hit areas due to power outages and would deploy temporary power and network facilities where they are available and convenient. It had also secured A$37m national pot funding for a new airframe on wheels which will arrive later this year.

The company said that in all locations where its network is unavailable, calls to Triple Zero will be diverted to an alternate network.

Evacuation centers

For people in NSW who need to evacuate, the NSW SES maintains a list of current evacuation centres.

Queenslanders are told they will know more from local radio and television, emergency telephone alerts, local advice and even door-to-door emergency services.

Last updated at 10:12 a.m. AEDT, March 12, 2022: Additional numbers from Telstra and Optus.

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