60,000 Victorians Plunged Back Into Dark Ages After Telstra Exchange Fire Cuts Services

Around 60,000 Victorians won't be able to read this story. Why? Because a fire that tore through a Telstra telephone exchange building overnight gutted communication services to the south-western region of the state. Landlines, broadband, smartphones, ATMs. Everything.

The fire in the Warrnambool Telstra exchange kicked off at around 4:30am this morning and gutted the building and its precious copper infrastructure.

Residents are left without the ability to browse the web, call friends and family or even get in touch with emergency services via the 000 service. Telstra says that it may take days to restore services to the area in earnest, but it has pledged to roll-out emergency infrastructure to the region for interim connectivity.

Telstra has a range of weirdly-named satellite connectivity gear that it rolls out in diaster-affected areas called SatCOWs. It stands for Satellite Cell On Wheels and it's basically a portable Next G base-station that can be packed into a few bags (pictured above) and deployed where it's most needed.

That will only restore cell services, though. For serious connectivity like ADSL2+ services, Telstra has what's known as a MEOW. Short for Mobile Exchange On Wheels, the MEOW will be used to placate the 60,000 affected users until services can be restored.

Emergency services are still investigating the cause of the blaze.

How would you cope with a cut in connectivity? Could you do it? [ABC News]

Image: Telstra

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