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Telcos battle connectivity issues as deadly earthquake strikes NZ

By James Henderson | Nov. 15, 2016
The country is still being hit with aftershocks.

Telecommunications providers across the country are battling connectivity issues, after a 7.5 magnitude earthquake ripped through the heart of New Zealand.

Striking near Hanmer Springs in the South Island just after midnight, at least two people have been killed amid reports of further casualties.

Currently, the country is still being hit with over 100 aftershocks being recorded so far, severely impacting Canterbury and Wellington areas, despite tsunami warnings being lifted.

Initial investigations have shown that a fibre optic cable that connects Kaikoura to the rest of the telecommunications network is likely to have been damaged by the earthquake.

“This is likely to have limited the ability of Kaikoura residents to call anyone outside of the town, on either mobile or fixed line services,” a Chorus spokesperson stated.

“A Chorus technician is currently in the Kaikoura exchange with a satellite phone to intercept and relay any emergency calls.

“Chorus is working closely with Vodafone and Spark to restore services as quickly as possible.”

Currently, a full assessment of the Chorus network and buildings is currently underway, with around 2400 customers currently without fixed line service, mostly related to power issues.

Chorus offices in Wellington and Christchurch are closed until full building assessments can be undertaken.

Meanwhile, the Spark mobile and broadband network is still up and performing normally.

“Teams of engineers have been dispatched to isolated areas of service impact in Clarence, Kaikoura, Weld Cone, Waiau and Eltham in the upper South Island,” a Spark spokesperson said.

“Due to power outages in some areas, a number of cell towers in the South Island are now running on back-up power sources.”

According to Spark, 111 is now operational, following a period without service immediately following the earthquake.

“This was due to the 111 service centre requiring evacuation, and we are evaluating if there was any other technical impact to those services,” a spokesperson confirmed.

“Police, Fire and Ambulance are now receiving and directing calls directly as they are received.

“To allow for thorough engineer investigation into our buildings in Wellington and parts of the South Island, non-critical Spark staff are being advised to stay away from the office, and work from home where they can.

“During this period that there are continuing aftershocks, we advise that people text don’t call when checking in on loved ones to avoid any additional congestion to those networks.”

Across town Vodafone technical teams have also been working hard to ensure customers are able to remain connected.

“They have been able to assess the mobile and fixed networks and report that some sites in Wellington and Christchurch have been impacted by power cuts, there is no structural damage,” a Vodafone spokesperson added.


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