DOZENS of households and businesses in western Lake Macquarie have been without phone and internet services for three weeks, after a major Telstra submarine cable was damaged by a boat’s anchor on New Year’s eve.
About 100 homes and the majority of main street businesses at Wangi Wangi have been affected, with some customers saying their services were still out on Thursday.
The Newcastle Herald understands that a boat moored between Wangi Wangi and Arcadia Vale on New Year’s Eve to view the fireworks pulled up part of the Telstra cable with its anchor – blacking out phone, internet, EFTPOS, TAB and fax services.
Wangi Wangi residents and business operators are furious and demanding compensation for the lengthy blackout.
Owner of the Wangi Wangi Newsagency, Steve Wiseman, calculated he had lost thousands due to extra hours staff have had to work and missed business.
Mr Wiseman said he had wasted ‘‘far too long’’ trying to get to the bottom of the problem with Telstra staff located in the Philippines.
‘‘On Wednesday I rang them again to say it had been weeks and the woman told me the problem had been fixed the day before, which was obviously wrong because the line was still down,’’ he said.
‘‘After an hour-and-a-half on the phone they offered to charge me $120 to send out a technician. It’s been extremely frustrating, with very few answers provided.’’
Telstra’s Hunter and Central Coast general manager Chris Cusack apologised to customers on Thursday and said about one kilometre of submarine cable had been replaced in a major operation that involved a team of divers.
Mr Cusack said he was informed all services had been restored on Tuesday, but urged customers still having problems to call 132200.
Mr Cusack said business customers seeking compensation would be assessed.
‘‘It has been a protracted outage due to the complexity of the repair,’’ he said.
Some phones were diverted to mobiles and customers with medical conditions were supplied with alternative services.
He urged boat operators to heed the submarine cable warning signs displayed around the lake.
Owner of Vita Cafe and Restaurant, Michelle Austen-Tabone, said her phone started working again on Wednesday.
‘‘When it first happened we had people walking in and saying they had booked a table and we had no idea what was going on, it was pretty chaotic,’’ she said.
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