What a horrible weekend for Christchurch and the South Island. My friends there are unhurt, thank goodness, and unbelievably enough, it appears nobody was killed. The repair and clean-up work after the 7.1 quake will be massive though, and I hope there won't be a strong aftershock as has been predicted.
The communications infrastructure seems to have held up well in the area. I hear that quite a few providers are running on generators, but overall, things seem to be trucking along (see below though). I use Snap in Christchurch as a second ISP, and their service certainly didn't skip a beat during the disaster.
Chorus, Telecom's infrastructure arm, says the infrastructure held up well and has now sourced enough power generators with fuel keep the cabinets going. Was sent a picture from Christchurch of a Whisper cabinet with an expansion plinth, powered by a generator.
Telecom has meanwhile announced that payphones in Christchurch will be free to use, which is a great initiative to help people get in touch with each other and for public safety. Hope it won't get abused. Here's the media release Telecom sent out:
5 September, 2010
Telecom makes Christchurch payphones free
Telecom has made around 300 payphones in and around Christchurch free for local, national and mobile calls. There are still some parts of Christchurch without landline services, due to prolonged loss of power and damage caused by the earthquake.
Alan Gourdie, CEO Telecom Retail, said that despite the fact that overall Telecom's network is holding up well there are still many people unable to use their own phones.
"We know many people in Christchurch will be facing ongoing disruption and it's important they are able to stay in touch with the people who matter to them.
"We hope this gesture will help to make a difference to the people of Christchurch in the aftermath of yesterday's massive earthquake," Mr Gourdie said.
Telecom asks people to use the payphones responsibly, by keeping calls brief and making important calls only.
Update A Christchurch friend sent this picture of the river Avon:
Update II Have to revise what I said above telco infrastructure holding up.. somewhat. Robin Kelly from Chorus says "with pockets of areas throughout Christchurch still without phone and broadband services, local telecommunications network operator Chorus is doing everything it can to get people back online" in an emailed statement.
Chorus is bringing in techies and gear from around the country to help restore Christchurch services, and now has sufficient power generators and fuel to restore cabinets without power, according to Kelly. The central phone exchanges "suffered only minor damage and are all operating normally," Kelly says.
Instead, it looks like the cabinets took the biggest knocks - 15 are still down as of writing this, with up to 1,440 PSTN lines affected. According to ISP XNET, 60,000 customers are without broadband, fibre services to West Melton subdivision are cut and three WCDMA sites and 11 CDMA ones are down.
Am also getting unconfirmed reports that the phone network was congested immediately after the quake, possibly affecting voice calls.
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