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Telecom Media advisory: Canterbury earthquake - update 11.45

Telecom Media advisory: Canterbury earthquake - update 11.45am, 23 February

Disruption to landline and mobile services in Christchurch continues, and widespread power outages mean large parts of the network are still working off backup power. The mobile network remains significantly affected. A number of cell sites are inoperative with others still heavily congested.

Our advice remains to minimise use of mobile phones, and for people to use text messages instead of calls when possible to free up the network for emergency response workers and to minimise the drain on backup batteries and generators.

We also ask customers nationwide to refrain from making audio conference calls to preserve this facility for emergency service personnel.

Our focus remains on restoring and maintaining mobile cell sites in the CBD, so survivors trapped in the rubble who do have mobile phones can continue to keep in contact with rescue teams. All central city cell sites that are operational have been connected to generators to keep them running

We have deployed two COWs (Cell Sites on Wheels) to critical areas to boost mobile coverage and we are looking to deploy additional COWs from around the country. We are also deploying technicians from around New Zealand to assist in the restoration of telecommunication services in the Canterbury region.

We continue to intensively monitor network capacity and performance, with a particular focus on 111 services and key emergency response sites.

111 services remain stable and available and any issues connecting to 111 are likely to be due to network disruption due to damage, power outages or congestion. People trying to contact 111 should try again if they experience issues connecting. 111 calls are being prioritised.

Advice from previous updates:
People without power in their homes will not be able to use cordless landline phones, as base stations require power. If customers have non-cordless landline phones that plug directly into the wall and do not require power, they should use them instead.

To minimise the stress on the network and to conserve back-up power we ask people to continue only using their phones for emergency calls. We are providing further mobile phone devices to rescue workers as they arrive in the region. It’s important that we maintain integrity of the network to enable them to do their job.

For residents of Christchurch, 260 payphones in and around Christchurch are enabled with free calling for local, national and mobile calls.

We will provide regular updates as more information becomes available.

Our thoughts are with the people of Canterbury.


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