NBN links expected to be more robust during disasters
GLADSTONE and surrounding regions may have avoided a communication blackhole during the January floods if the National Broadband Network had been rolled out months earlier.
As the region braced for flash flooding and torrential rainfall, Telstra was dealing with a disaster of its own as it scrambled to repair fibre-optic damage to the state's main communication board.
The damage led to a widespread network outage across the Queensland coast, with local police stations left to take 000 calls via their landline phones on January 28.
NBNCo, the company responsible for building the fast-speed broadband network, said the new optic-fibre infrastructure would outperform existing copper phone networks.
"The design of the NBN also supports resilience by appropriate levels of redundancy, or diversity, that seeks to address potential risks," an NBNCo representative said.
"The copper telephone wires in use in most homes today carry an electrical current and are subject to corrosion, electrical faults, lightning strikes and failure due to flooding.
"So while no network can be immune from damage in extreme events and natural disasters, part of the job of the NBN is to put in place a network that is designed to reduce some of the deficiencies inherent in copper."
In April last year Gladstone was snubbed by the Federal Government when it was not shortlisted to receive a connection before 2015.
Last July it was announced optic fibre installation would begin in neighbouring regional centres Rockhampton and Bundaberg.
An NBNCo representative said although work had begun in Rockhampton's CBD in November, hauling of the fibre would not begin for a number of months.
Plans to build the NBN have not been halted in Bundaberg and are expected to begin in April.
Queensland Police confirmed Telstra landline connections were impacted on Sunday, January 28.
This affected Triple Zero calls in Gladstone, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns, Mareeba and Mt Isa.
Residents were advised to contact their local police station by phone, and if safe to do so, in person.
A Telstra representative said the outages experienced on the Australia Day weekend were unprecedented and were caused by cable cuts in two separate locations over 100km apart.
"Telstra will conduct a post incident review to see what we can learn from this event," the representative said.