Marble Bar glitch cuts phone and net

Taylar AmoniniNorth West Telegraph

The Australia Day long weekend was marred for businesses and residents from Marble Bar to Telfer Reef when phone and internet services were cut for more than two days.

After a technical problem at a relay station near Marble Bar on Thursday, January 25, 3G and 4G mobile services as well as broadband services were shut off to Marble Bar, Spinifex Ridge, Telfer Reef, Nifty Mine and Yarrie Village.

Marble Bar Traveller’s Rest manager Kylie James said the outage caused the business to lose two full days of revenue because of the loss of landline, mobile and EFTPOS services.

“I would say we lost at least $3000-$4000 in revenue over those two days,” she said.

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“We had to turn people away unless they were desperate for fuel, otherwise we took card numbers in good faith that when I processed it that it could go through.”

Telstra area general manager Boyd Brown said Telstra would investigate compensation for businesses that may have been affected by the outage on a case-by-case basis.

“Technicians travelled to the site and worked on the equipment overnight but were still unable to restore services following a reset,” he said.

“We then had to source further replacement equipment. The technician returned to site and fitted the new hardware, which restored services just before 6pm on Saturday, January 27.”

Mr Brown urged residents and small businesses to contact Telstra if they were having continued connection issues or to discuss and register a claim.

However, some residents are still concerned as the outage was the second of its kind so far this wet season.

Marble Bar’s Dean Hatwell said he was disappointed by the lack of communication with residents about what had happened.

“If you go onto (Telstra’s) website, it still says ‘under investigation’ for the incident a couple of weeks ago, no one will tell you anything, why, what, how to prevent it and if this will keep happening,” he said.

“We were just incommunicado — in this day and age that’s just unacceptable.”

Mr Hatwell also said he was disappointed there was no back-up plan for the regional towns affected, unlike for bigger North West towns such as Karratha, Hedland and Broome.

“In Hedland if the cable goes between, say, Hedland and Karratha they have a redundant loop, which is a kind of back-up through Broome, but in Marble Bar there’s nothing, we’re completely isolated,” he said.

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