Karen Smith was forced to drive 2.5 hours earlier this week just to keep her business afloat following an extended Telstra service outage.
Karen Smith was forced to drive 2.5 hours earlier this week just to keep her business afloat following an extended Telstra service outage. Katie Griffin

Residents cut off

DROUGHT hit farmers in the Central Highlands have been dealt another blow - hundreds have been unable to use their landlines, mobile phones or internet for the past week.

With no confirmed repair date in sight, Rolleston residents like Karen Smith are growing frustrated with telco giant Telstra, which is the primary service provider in the area.

Mrs Smith said it felt as though the telco was "just spinning us along”.

"It's almost as if Telstra is holding us to ransom. Our neighbour has got a little bit of mobile service but they paid over $1000 for a Cel-Fi, which draws signal from the tower.”

Mrs Smith said issues with Telstra's service had been ongoing in the area for more than two years.

"It is frustrating for the fact that we've just come out of drought,” she said.

"We're currently in a position where we're starting to trade our grain and our cattle. But of course now everything is done online.”

To keep her business afloat, Mrs Smith said that earlier in the week she had been forced to make the 2.5-hour round trip to Springsure to use the library's computer.

She said staff at the library - which is managed by Central Highlands Regional Council - had "bent over backwards” to help her.

However, she said it was "ridiculous” she had to make the trip in the first place.

"I did ring Telstra today and finally got through and the customer service agent told me they had got spare parts but they've now found they need to replace a cable and they're now waiting for it to arrive,” Mrs Smith said.

"What I can't understand is we deal with the John Deere dealer at Emerald - Vanderfield - and we needed a part for our header that came from Melbourne and we had it on the property via Vanderfield in 24 hours.”

After speaking with Telstra regarding the repairs, Mrs Smith said she was told the work had been outsourced to an external contractor.

She then approached Member for Flynn Ken O'Dowd, who contacted Telstra to find out when service would be restored to the area. However, according to Mrs Smith, Telstra would not divulge the information due to privacy laws.

"I said to them (Ken O'Dowd's office staff), he's a Federal Member of Parliament.

"So who is Telstra responsible to? Surely to goodness, there must be someone of a greater power.

"Surely Telstra must know who the outsourcing company are. I can't see why it's such a secret.”

Telstra regional general manager Rachel Cliffe said the service issues in Rolleston were due to a "complex hardware fault” which affected "around 160 customers”.

"Our technicians are continuing to work to repair the fault, but the fix is proving harder than we first thought, and has taken longer than expected.

"We are sorry for the inconvenience and are working hard to restore services as quickly as possible. We again thank our customers for their patience.”

At the time of going to print, Telstra stated it was delivering a mobile cell on wheels to Rolleston, however, Mrs Smith said it was yet to arrive.

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