Telstra is in crisis mode after the failure of both its ADSL service and the USA-China undersea cable it uses 105 kilometres off the coast of Chong Ming.
The problems are causing havoc for Telstra's early-adopter ADSL customers who have endured several days of intermittent service despite being promised a reliable service.
Asymmetrical Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) is one of the more expensive high-speed Internet connections currently being rolled out to Australian businesses by the carrier and its wholesale partners.
However, the service has been plagued with a series of "brown-outs" since Friday. In some cases, these outages only lasted a matter of seconds, but customers claim the constant interruption is still enough to hamper those relying on the Internet for conducting business.
Telstra's help line for ADSL customers is broadcasting a message stating the network is currently experiencing network problems nationwide.
"If you are having difficulty connecting, please note technicians are working on the problem as a priority," the message states. The message also indicates users may be experiencing no data flow, and will need to re-boot their computers after each outage.
A frustrated ADSL subscriber in South Australia told ARN the most frustrating part of the problem is that the message directs subscribers to a Frequently Asked Question page on the Telstra web site, which is difficult to do if you have lost your connection.
"If the retail service is unreliable, why should we be convinced to offer it on a wholesale program? Perhaps they should have run this as a trial or a beta test," said a customer, who wished not to be identified. "A business that relies on the Internet for revenues can't survive with these outages." The customer doubted his business would be compensated for any losses.
Telstra public affairs spokesperson Kerrina Lawrence said the problems began late last Friday in Melbourne. An ADSL hardware fault was detected at 3:30pm, which was originally thought to only affect the Melbourne metropolitan area. At 5:30pm the problem was isolated to a Nortel gateway router, and Telstra realised the problem was affecting subscribers nationally. By 8:30 pm Telstra and Nortel had replaced the router.
A separate problem then sprung up at 11:30 pm Friday night, with the failure of the USA-China undersea cable. A cable repair ship has been assigned to the failure, with the repair job expected to take approximately one week.
Lawrence said 30 per cent of Australia's traffic to the USA has been effected, with the impact reduced by 25 per cent after Telstra began patching traffic onto the new Southern Cross Network.
"We are doing as much as we can to patch the traffic elsewhere," said Lawrence. "We apologise for the inconvenience and are doing our best to fix the problem."