Wagga landline phone outage a reminder of isolation challenges

Faulty landlines pose new isolation challenge

As phone and internet communication becomes more important than ever, a Wagga resident has raised concerns over the impact a faulty landline can have in a time of social isolation.

Peter Dolden of Wagga found himself without a working landline telephone for at least 10 days earlier this month, an experience he said was not uncommon among those he knew in Wagga and the wider Riverina.

In the first three months of 2020, the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman received 5441 complaints nationwide from people with no phone or internet service, while a further 3072 complained of intermittent service or drop-outs.

Over the same period, 10,197 people made complaints about no or delayed action by their telecommunications provider following a request.

Mr Dolden was informed by Telstra that the lost connection was due to a whole area outage and given a phone number to request information about when the matter would likely be resolved.

He said he was told the outage was affecting multiple providers.

Mr Dolden said he personally was not concerned by the outage because he had a mobile phone and was comfortable using it, however he was concerned for elderly people who may have found themselves without means of communication.

"We've got the internet, I can drive a car, I have my mobile phone but because of the virus around ... a lot of elderly people are isolated at the best of times and this just made it worse for them," he said.

"They couldn't go to their outings and people couldn't ring them, I was just worried about those people that were just really isolated."

Mr Dolden said he had been told Telstra was attempting to communicate with people via text message about the outage, but he believed there would be people not getting the message.

"A lot of elderly people don't have a mobile phone and they don't have the internet, and yet Telstra were saying that's what they wanted to try and do to let everybody know," he said.

A spokesperson for Telstra recommended anyone experiencing an outage to register the problem online or call 13 22 03.

For those who find themselves with no means to do this if their phone is not working, Mr Dolden said he would like to see communication around outages through traditional media.

"I wanted something put over the radio or the TV on a regular basis, just to let them know where the problems are, when it could be rectified," he said.

This story Faulty landlines pose new isolation challenge first appeared on The Daily Advertiser.