Communications minister, Senator Stephen Conroy, has launched an inquiry into the Telstra exchange fire at Warrnambool Victoria, which left more than 60,000 residents and businesses without fixed line telecommunications services.
A fire broke out on November 22 and impacted landline, broadband, mobile and radio services in Warrnambool and surrounding areas.
Telstra has so far reconnected 35,000 homes and businesses and restored all mobile phone coverage to the area and are continuing to reconnect remaining services.
The inquiry will look into what lessons can be learnt from the incident and will gather information from Telstra on what triggered it, extent of the damage and what services were impacted. It will also look into the effectiveness of the fire prevention and mitigation strategies; the process of restoring affected services and interim services provided; and report on the effectiveness of disaster recovery and service continuity planning for the telecommunications infrastructure. It will also hold a public forum based on the impact of what occurred.
“A fire of this type is infrequent, but given how important telecommunications infrastructure is for the day-to-day lives of all Australians, an inquiry is appropriate,” Senator Conroy stated. “I want to hear the views of the affected communities and relevant experts to ensure that disaster mitigation and service recovery plans are as effective as possible if similar events were to occur in the future.”