Connection crisis as crucial cabling is cut

'STUPID, malicious' vandals put lives at risk when they cut crucial fibre optics cables at Kempsey on Tuesday night, according to area general manager for Telstra and Countrywide, Michael Sharpe.

Around 10,000 phone lines, 3000 broadband connections and 20 mobile towers between Kempsey and Brisbane were affected when mindless vandals cut three lines at Kempsey rail bridge – the third such incident in two years.

“It was a stupid, malicious act that put people's lives at risk. It's not just the cost of repairing the damage. It's the inconvenience it causes to customers and the costs to local businesses.”

Thousands of people, including Coffs Coast residents, were left without access to their phone lines and internet while the damage was repaired.

“We were on site very shortly after the incident, and it was a fantastic effort by workers to work throughout the night in trying and dangerous conditions to have the damage repaired by about 8am,” Mr Sharpe said.

He said the company had invested huge amounts of time and money investigating alternatives for the cabling, including boring under the river.

“The geology of the riverbed makes that option unfeasible. In any case, it's hard to protect against these acts of stupidity.”

Mr Sharpe said they will be assisting police in their inquiries to ensure they find the party(s) responsible.

“We're very angry, and so are the customers who have been put out – and so they should be,” he said.

“Last time the offenders were caught and charged.

“We will be working very closely with NSW Police and helping them in any way we can to make sure whoever did this is charged with the full extent of the law.”

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