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Telecom remembers the Christchurch Earthquakes

Telecom remembers the Christchurch Earthquakes

To acknowledge the first anniversary of the quakes, Telecom is supporting Westpac's White Lights of Hope for Christchurch initiative, by mounting the white lights on top of its building at 109 Hereford Street.

Telecom will donate the power to light the White Lights of Hope for Christchurch up into the sky above Cathedral Square from 4 September 2011 to 23 February 2012.

Twelve months on from Christchurch's first major earthquake on 4 September 2010, the traumatic events in the Garden City have changed not only telecommunications infrastructure, but the lives of Telecom's people and the way in which Telecom operates.

Telecom has been operating in Christchurch for many years, and with 1600 employees based in the city, we plan on having a presence in Christchurch for many years to come.

In the past year, Telecom's people have fixed broken cables, raised money, been relocated and worked closely with the emergency services and local businesses to support the city.

Here's a summary of what we have done so far -


* Much of Telecom's network in Christchurch remained operable throughout the earthquakes and was instrumental in ensuring key emergency response teams remained connected.

* Since 4 September, Chorus technicians have restored phone and broadband services to around 17,500 customers by repairing more than 325 earth-quake damaged telecommunications cables.

* We made 260 payphones across Christchurch free for local, national and mobile calls. On average around 5,000 calls were made each day from these free payphones.

* We've installed more than 50 free WiFi hotspots across Christchurch so residents can access the internet for free as the city recovers.

* We continue to closely monitor the usage and capacity of our mobile sites as people move to new areas in Christchurch.

Money we've raised

* Telecom people in New Zealand and Australia directly donated to the 'big Telecom whip-around fund'. Funds raised were matched dollar for dollar by Telecom, with a total amount of over $400,000 donated to the Red Cross.

* Telecom provided for free, the official Red Cross text-to-donate service. During the appeal, more than $110,000 was raised from donations from across the main mobile operators.

* Telecom has given around $90,000 worth of phones and credit to Civil Defence and Red Cross volunteers.

* In February, Telecom launched a nationwide campaign calling for analogue phones that could be operated without power. In response, Kiwis donated around 10,000 analogue phones and many thousands of these phones were distributed to those in need across Christchurch.

* In May, Telecom employees from Christchurch volunteered their own time to answer the national calls for the Rise Up Christchurch - Te Kotahitanga telethon which raised more than $2.7 million.

* The Telecom-sponsored 'Givealittle' appeal raised more than $200,000

Telecom's customers

* For several months following the quakes, Telecom provided free call diversion and waived early termination fees for customers who needed to terminate their contract due to their home or premises being permanently unsafe.

* Customers could also suspend their access line until they had a new address, while keeping their current phone number (provided they relocated within the same exchange area). We continue to find new and innovative ways to support our customers as Christchurch rebuilds over the next decade.

* Throughout the earthquakes, Gen-i provided close support to its infrastructure and government clients, including the Ministry of Social Development, to ensure they had the telecommunications and IT systems required to do what they needed to do.

Telecom's people

* Telecom continues to provide practical means of support to its 1600 Christchurch-based people, including housing and EQC/insurance claim assistance, counselling and support, paid leave and provision of home security.

* Telecom people have been unable to return to our sites in the Christchurch CBD's red zone so we have set up new premises in multiple locations on the periphery of the city. We intend to return to one of our undamaged buildings at 109 Hereford Street when the CBD reopens.

* With many of Telecom's Christchurch-based staff affected by the quakes, we implemented a new service channel called Agents @ Home, which allows our customer service reps to take calls and serve customers from their home. We have 44 customer service reps currently working in this new model, with more joining every month.

What have we learnt?

* We've experienced first hand the resilience of Christchurch people in the face of ongoing disaster, and our respect for our customers and our employees in Christchurch is immense.

* We have been truly humbled by the response of our teams in Christchurch to keep customers at their heart and carry on in the face of ongoing challenges that would cripple many less resilient people.

Kia Kaha Christchurch!

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