Project Description

Telecommunications, connectivity & coverage

NBN Bushfire recovery and support updates

The NBN Co is actively working with emergency services to restore impacted services across Australian, where possible and safe to do so.

Free Wi-Fi locations (current)

Free Wi-Fi is now available at the locations listed here

Update Blog

NBN are maintaining a blog with regular updates on the bushfire recovery efforts and details of the support to local communities as it relates to the nbn™ broadband access network.

As of 17 January:

  • The entire nbn™ access network is operational except for a single fixed wireless tower
  • There has been some service impact, mostly attributed to mains power loss across bushfire-affected areas
  • 24hour evacuation sites now have dedicated satellite installed or mobile satellite trucks, for community WiFi and internet access
  • NBN Co continues to work alongside emergency services in fire-affected areas to gain access, when it is safe to do so, to maintain and help restore communications services. We are also working to maintain and reconnect essential services which are critical to local communities, such as banks, petrol stations and supermarkets, when it is safe to do so.
  • Temporary network infrastructure remains active (e.g. generators, mobile network on wheels)
  • We are also prioritising the rebuild of the nbn network infrastructure damaged by the bushfires, and we will similarly prioritise the re-connection of affected premises once the rebuilding of homes and communities gets underway.

Advice – Staying Connected

Advice on staying connected in an emergency (preparation is the key), including what happens during a power outage. If your nbn™ access network service isn’t working contact your phone or internet service provider. For more information contact nbn via 1800 687 626, info@nbnco.com.au or visit http://www.nbn.com.au

Connectivity and coverage

Telcos have been working to fix coverage issues where possible, and have provided backup options to keep people connected including:

• Telstra is providing pre-paid sim cards at a number of evacuation centres across New South Wales and Victoria.

• Payphones have been made free nationwide to allow people to make local, national and standard mobile calls.

• Free Wi-Fi is also available at locations where Telstra payphones are equipped to provide this.

• Telstra has also rolled out a Satellite Cell on Wheels in Mallacoota (VIC) and a Cell on Wheels (COW) in Corryong (VIC). This technology, along with satellite phones, is used to provide connectivity for emergency services.

Assistance packages – NSW

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have worked with the NSW Government to provide customers in bushfire-affected areas of the state with unlimited access to emergency service websites and apps. Eligible customers will not use their mobile phone data allowance when visiting:

• The NSW Rural Fire Service

• The NSW Office of Emergency Management

• The Bureau of Meteorology

• Federal Government Disaster Assistance

• ABC News

• The Red Cross

How to prepare for an emergency

NBN Co recommends creating an emergency communications kit in case of an emergency. This should include a charged mobile phone, portable mobile battery pack and battery-powered radio.

Your mobile phone will be able to connect to any available mobile carrier (e.g. Telstra, Optus, Vodafone) to call emergency services (000). However, if you are in a black spot that is not covered by any carrier, your phone will not be able to call 000.

If you are in a remote location, or often travel through remote areas, consider purchasing a satellite phone for emergencies.

Calling for help

000 – For urgent help from police, fire or ambulance.

• Can be called for free from any phone (fixed, mobile or satellite) in Australia.

• You will need to provide your location. 000 calls can’t pinpoint your location using GPS.

106 – For urgent help from police, fire or ambulance.

• Can only be used with a teletypewriter (TTY) or a device for the deaf.

Australian Communications Consumer Action network advice

Telstra Customers

Telstra is providing customers affected by bushfires immediate short-term help, as well as longer-term support. This includes:

Free call diversion to any mobile or fixed phone number

One-off credit to the value of $100 (including GST) for Telstra mobile customers who do not have a Telstra home phone (limited to one mobile phone per Telstra mobile account).

One-off credit to the value of $500 (including GST) to the customer’s Telstra fixed phone account to help cover the costs of the following, if required:

-   Connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at one temporary residence

-   Re-connection of a Telstra fixed phone service at the customer’s original permanent premises

To see if your suburb is eligible for support, head to the ACAN website.

Optus Customers

Optus has announced that bushfire affected customers can access Disaster Assistance Support. This means they can access:

Free call diversions from an Optus fixed home phone to any mobile or fixed number

Extended timeframes for bill payments

Bill waivers in instances of extreme financial hardship; and

Free suspension, relocation or cancellation of a fixed service

Free prepaid credit which can be organised at your local store.

For more information call Optus’ dedicated hotline for volunteer firefighters and customers affected by the bushfires on 1300 301 671.

Vodafone Customers

Vodafone has taken steps to ensure that customers in fire affected areas are not automatically disconnected if they fall behind on their bill payments.

Vodafone has a range of options available under their hardship policy for any customers who have been directly impacted by the fires. Those customers can apply for financial assistance by contacting Vodafone’s Financial Hardship team on 1300 650 405.

Volunteer Firefighters (RFS, CFA, DFES)

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone have announced they will waive bills for volunteer firefighters for December and January in appreciation for their efforts in protecting communities around Australia.

Telstra – Call 13 22 03.

Optus – Call 1300 301 671.

Vodafone – Call 1300 650 410 or visit a Vodafone store and quote your official volunteer ID number.