Exchange fire hits Telstra fixed and mobile services

Fire at Chatswood exchange

A fire at Telstra’s Chatswood exchange in New South Wales has affected fixed and mobile services.

Telstra confirmed the problem this afternoon, but has not detailed the scope of the affected services. However, the fire appears to have had an impact on some customers outside of NSW.

“A fire at the Chatswood Exchange in Sydney this afternoon has been contained, but damage has been caused to some power infrastructure,” a statement from the telco said.

“As a result a number of customers’ are experiencing loss of service. Our technicians are currently completing a full assessment of the impact. We will provide more information as soon as it is available.”

A spokesperson for Fire and Rescue NSW said it received a call out at 11.44am as the result of an automatic fire alarm. A fuseable link had exploded and burnt out, the spokesperson said. The fire was put out with a single extinguisher.

Update 3.15pm AEDT: Telstra says that services are beginning to be restored but a related issue has affected SMS messaging.

“As a result of the Chatswood Exchange fire today its possible some SMS messages have been incorrectly delivered,” a spokesperson said. “As mentioned previously customers won’t be receiving SMS messages in the short term while we resolve this issue.

Update: 4.10pm AEDT: Telstra has confirmed all voice services are restored.

Update, 4 February: A new statement from Telstra regarding mis-delivered SMS messages says: Due to an issue caused by the fire at our Chatswood Exchange on Thursday 2nd February, SMS’ sent from some mobiles between 1pm AEDT and 3:20pm AEDT may have been misdirected and not reached the intended recipient. The messages may have been received by another number. We apologise for this error. If anyone received a message in error please delete it.

Read more: Telstra Health to roll out WA health information system

Customers who are concerned that they did not receive an SMS or are unsure whether their SMS was delivered to the right person can contact Telstra on 132200 between 8:00am and 9:00pm. Further information about the issue can be found at http://tel.st/SMS-Feb

In June last year, a Telstra exchange in Brunswick, Melbourne, suffered an electrical fire.

In November 2012 a serious blaze destroyed 60 per cent of Telstra’s Warrnambool exchange, cutting off telecommunications services for 100,000 people. The fire and subsequent fallout triggered a government-commissioned inquiry by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy.

Telstra also conducted its own investigation into the lessons of the fire.

Telstra last year suffered a string of high-profile outages, with the telco’s CEO, Andrew Penn, subsequently pledging to invest $250 million in network resilience measures. Telstra in June 2016 said it would spend $250 million on improving its network.

The pledge came following a review commissioned by Telstra after a major mobile outage in February 2016, which the telco blamed on human error, and a number of other mobile outages.

The $250 million included $50 million for measures to specifically improve the resilience of its mobile network.

Additional reporting by George Nott.

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