Blackall without mobile service for a day

Mobile outage forces Blackall doc surgery relocation to hospital


Without a working ATM, the central western Queensland town of Blackall would have almost shut down on Monday.


Without a working ATM, the central western Queensland town of Blackall would have almost shut down on Monday.

While for most the fault was just inconvenient, meaning they couldn't 'tap' to pay for purchases or hold a proper telephone conversation, the doctors' surgery in town was forced to relocate to the hospital for a day, redirecting all consultations.

Telstra claimed the transmission fault at its Blackall mobile base station began at around 9.30am on Monday but a number of users were experiencing dropouts from Sunday evening.

The fault was fixed on Monday evening, giving the community a day of living without the mobile phone service they'd become accustomed to.

"It was hell," Barcoo Hotel bartender Vicki Harlow said.

"People don't carry cash anymore. We had cars lined up at the bottleshop while people walked down to the ATM to get some money to pay for their purchases.

"We're lucky that was working or we would have been in real strife."

For local pharmacist and grocery store owner Ian Kinsey, the outage affected some of his EFTPOS services and not others and so he and his staff managed people's needs adequately.

"Having the ATM at the front of the shop was a plus - we probably didn't lose any business that way," he said.

The communications outage affected the computer network at the Black Stump Medical Centre in Blackall on Monday, necessitating the temporary relocation of the GP practice and its activities to Blackall Hospital from mid-morning.

A Central West Hospital and Health Service spokesman said the issue had been resolved overnight and the staff and patients had returned to the usual premises at lunchtime on Tuesday.

"The Blackall Hospital was not affected in any way by the outage," he said, adding that a number of minor communications outages have been experienced across the central west over the past couple of days but no clinical services at any facility had been affected.

"If required, all our facilities have appropriate back-up communication channels, such as satellite phones, available to deal with such events, or disaster-related disruptions to normal communications," he said.

Telstra's regional general manager May Boisen apologised for the inconvenience caused by the transmission fault, thanking the Blackall community for its patience.

"This can happen from time to time when equipment fails but customers can be confident that it is not a regular occurrence," she said.

She was not able to say how many people had been affected by the fault, given that people passing through would have been subject to the dropouts as well.

Allaying community rumour as to the cause of the fault, Ms Boisen said Telstra wasn't switching off its 3G service until June 2024, after which the spectrum would be used for the 5G rollout.

Monday's outage was due to a hardware transmission fault and nothing to do with 3G or 5G services.

Ms Boisen added that triple zero could be accessed in emergencies via Telstra's fixed line service, for those that have one installed.

She also said faults could be reported by calling 13 22 00.


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