Cyclone cuts through telecom networks in Queensland

Vodafone services restored, but other telcos still face outages
Credit: NASA/NOAA via [[xref:|NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory]]

Credit: NASA/NOAA via [[xref:|NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory]]

Australia’s telcos are busy restoring services following Tropical Cyclone Ita’s landing in Queensland over the weekend.

The storm had begun as a Category 5 system but was downgraded to Category 1 after landing. The storm still caused flooding and wind damage in North Queensland.

Several of the sites have been restored but others remain inaccessible due to dangerous conditions. Below is the latest information from Telstra, Optus and Vodafone Hutchison Australia:


The cyclone took out Telstra landline, mobile and ADSL service in several parts of North Queensland, and the telco was still working on restoring service as of this morning.

Some of the services were restored following the return of mains power or deployment of temporary generators in affected areas. But Telstra said there are still many outages, including:

  • 1124 landline services with the biggest impacts at Hope Vale, Julatten, Eulluma Creek and Oak Beach
  • 3G mobile service at Mt Piebald, White Cliffs, Wujal Wujal, North Ward and Woodwark
  • 2G mobile service at White Cliffs
  • 718 ADSL services with the biggest impacts at Julatten, Kowrowa and Mareeba

Telstra said technicians were still restricted from entering many areas including Alice River, Deeragun, Gulliver, Halifax, Kelso, Lucinda, Ingham, Taylors Beach and Townsville. The technicians are on standby to enter as soon as Emergency Services allows, the telco said.

In addition, Telstra has deployed a satellite mobile cell on wheels unit to Hope Vale to provide mobile coverage there.

“Telstra apologises for any inconvenience to our customers and wishes to assure them that we are doing everything we can to get them connected as soon as possible, however the safety of our staff is paramount, and we cannot enter the impacted areas to commence repairs until Emergency Services advise it is safe to do so.”


The local power outages caused by Cyclone Ita took down seven Optus mobile sites in North Queensland, Optus said.

This afternoon, Optus reported that it still had five mobile sites down in Cooktown, Mossman, Turtle Beach and Wonga.

“We’re unable access some of these sites to install temporary power due to the current weather conditions, but we are ready to deploy generators to the sites as soon as the relevant authorities advise it is safe to do so,” Optus said.

“Optus’ network operations team will continue to liaise with emergency services and the relevant authorities, and closely monitor the cyclone situation throughout today.”

Optus said on Sunday that it had deployed generators, mobile base stations, spare parts and network technicians to the affected areas.


Vodafone said it had three sites down on Friday night: Mossman, Kuranda and Smithfield, but service has since been restored.

However, the cyclone later caused more havoc, with 10 2G/3G mobile sites down between Clevedon and Bowen due to power outages Sunday afternoon. A flooded river blocked access to the sites.

Vodafone technicians got access to the site the same day and restored services by 7 p.m.

Vodafone said it had its Vodafone Foundation international team on standby to deploy mobile networks from a backpack, but in the end this was not required.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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