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Cut cable causes business chaos

ANZ Masterton had limited services throughout the day and closed its doors early at 3.30pm. PHOTO/FILE

500 local firms affected
Schools hit on first day of term

EMMA BROWN
[email protected]

Phone and internet services to about 500 Wairarapa businesses and schools were interrupted on Monday after a contractor dug where they shouldn’t have near Featherston and broke a fibre optic cable.

The outage started at 8.51am.

Telecom provider Spark said it had hoped to have the break repaired just after 4pm, but work had to be delayed while afternoon train services passed close by.

It hoped to restore full services by the start of business yesterday.

The ANZ bank and AA Centre in Masterton were among businesses forced to close early, with neighbouring businesses affected differently depending on the set-up of their services.

Internet and phone services to the region are provided through several cables.

Where customers’ phones operate through their internet connection, the break in the cable would have taken out both services. Elsewhere, only one service would have been lost.

Spark said a third-party contractor conducting unrelated maintenance near the train line caused the damage.

The impact on businesses varied.

Work and Income in Masterton was without phone or network services, while next door Oranga Tamariki had no problems.

ANZ Masterton had limited services throughout the day and closed its doors early at 3.30pm.

“When there’s a power outage or technology issue, our systems shut down for security reasons,” ANZ external communications manager corporate affairs Siobhan Enright said.

The AA Centre was also forced to close early because it could not process any applications.

The Masterton Community Centre, which is home to around 15 community groups, including Connecting Communities, had internet but no phone service.

Centre manager Beverley Jack said the situation was difficult.

“Some of it we are not going to know because people just can’t get through to us,” she said.

Vet Services Wairarapa office manager Annette Gibson said it had been “very frustrating, very quiet”.

“We’re doing what we can with email and Facebook. Everything else is going, just not the phones.”

Masterton Medical had an outage for their landline but still had internet.

They had an emergency backup which had landline phones diverted to cellphones.

Te Rangimarie and the youth clinic both had to move to the medical centre for the day as there was no internet at their buildings.

A message on social media advised people trying to call that if they needed urgent care to go to the medical centre.

General manager Robyn Wilson said it was “a little bit disruptive but hopefully we are still managing the patients”.

The internet caused problems for schools as they went into their first day of term.

Douglas Park School principal Gareth Sinton said the internet had gone down just as the roll was being called.

“The teachers have managed to use their phones as hotspots, but it isn’t ideal.

“We run a phone system at school which was also down, but we also have a school cellphone so parents were able to get in touch with us.”

Powershop’s call centre in Masterton had a brief outage but has a back-up system in place, so the impact was low.

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