The Australianreported today that last night that contractors working for Energy Australia cut through a bundle of Telstra copper wires and some multiple-fibre optical cables near the corner of York and Erskine streets in Sydney's central business district (CBD). At first thought, over 10,000 business and residential customers were thought to be affected, but the Sydney Morning Heraldreports that about 2,000 are now thought to be without phone, mobile, or Internet service.
Some customers will see their telecom services return in the next day or so, but many won't until next week, Telstra said. The company also said that it cost AU$1 million, but that likely doesn't include compensation costs for those affected.
Last year, a fiber optic cable belonging to the telecommunications company Optus was severed by a contractor causing a major land line, mobile phone and Internet shutdown for more than one million people in Queensland and Northern NSW.
As in that episode, the next thing to watch for is the blame game. While Energy Australia has apologized for the mishap, no doubt someone will say that the infrastructure maps showing where the cables were and or their depth were out of date or inaccurate.
Telstra probably wasn't happy that this happened at all, but especially after yesterday's demand by the Australian government for it to voluntarily break itself up - or else.
Robert N. Charette is a Contributing Editor to IEEE Spectrum and an acknowledged international authority on information technology and systems risk management. A self-described “risk ecologist,” he is interested in the intersections of business, political, technological, and societal risks. Charette is an award-winning author of multiple books and numerous articles on the subjects of risk management, project and program management, innovation, and entrepreneurship. A Life Senior Member of the IEEE, Charette was a recipient of the IEEE Computer Society’s Golden Core Award in 2008.