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Latest Christchurch communications updates

Thu 24 Feb 2011
FYI, this story is more than a year old

With the situation constantly changing on the ground in Christchurch, New Zealand’s telecommunications firms have issued fresh updates.

We'll continue to update this page as new alerts come through.

2degrees

2degrees continues to restore service in Christchurch, and the company now has sufficient generators to serve all sites without power, with engineers preparing and transporting them to key sites.

 

2degrees says service in the eastern parts of the city and the CBD is today's focus.

 

Challenges include variable power supply and the time taken to install and refuel generators.

 

Variable power supply means some sites will transition between power, battery backup and generators, so refuelling is key. Given the amount of traffic on the road, fuel transport between sites can be a challenge.

 

Even with increased coverage, 2degrees maintains its advice to customers to continue to keep calls to a minimum - texting is recommended.

 

Advice for those wanting to help 2degrees customers in Christchurch keep in touch

 

With a number of retailers out of action, 2degrees has options for people to give phone credit to those who need to be in contact with friends and family.

 Option 1: Credit Card

 

Anyone can top up a 2degrees mobile user by calling 0800 022 022. All they'll need is the mobile number of the 2degreesphone they want to top up and their credit card number.

 

Option 2: Transfer from 2degrees to 2degrees

 

Transfer credit from one 2degrees Prepay phone to another 2degrees Prepay phone. Just text 6238 with the recipient's2degrees number, then *, then the amount to transfer. Eg: To transfer $20: 022 XXX XXXX*20 then text to 6238

Vodafone

The Vodafone network is in a relatively strong position, from a peak of 55 sites out of service yesterday, we now have only 14 sites down.  Most of these are due to unavailability of power but at least two are confirmed to have physical damage which will take some time to restore.  The 14 sites are principally in the central and eastern areas of the city where power has not been restored. 

 

The technology teams worked through the night to restore, refuel and reparent cell sites. The priority is refuelling generators to keep sites working and ensuring our transmission network remains stable while keeping staff safe at all times. 

 

Our retail stores continue to be closed until tomorrow, subject to structural and electrical checks.  A list of stores able to open will be made available to the media and on our website later today.

 

We have mobilized nearly 60 generators which arrived in the city yesterday and are being deployed by our teams of engineers.   Additional personnel have been flown in from other centres to assist and provide regular shift rotation.  

 

Our mobile store truck – Optimus Prime has now reached the South Island and will be deployed in Christchurch to provide much needed support for customers later this evening.  More details to follow.

 

Vodafone will is once again partnering with The New Zealand Red Cross to provide essential support for those who need it. Vodafone customers can donate either $3 or $5 to the cause by TXTing ‘Quake’ to either 333 ($3 donation) or 555 ($5 donation). 100% of all donations will go to the NZ Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal. This appeal will help people whose homes, livelihoods and wellbeing have been affected by this most recent disaster.  Progress on their work can be found at: www.redcross.org.nz

 

Vodafone has opened this fund with a $500,000 donation, which comprises £100,000 from the Vodafone Group Foundation and the balance from Vodafone New Zealand.   Vodafone UK has also set up a free text donation number for Vodafone UK customers wishing to donate to the NZ Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal. Vodafone UK customers are able to make a £5 donation to the NZ Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal. The TXTs are free and the Vodafone Foundation will donate an additional £1 for every £5 donation made, up to a total of £100,000.

The company’s earlier advice requesting customers to save their phones for emergency calls, and use txt for non-critical communications, still stands. 

 

Vodafone still asks that customers limit mobile data usage (Facebook, Twitter, video/picture messaging, email) as this puts strain on the network and may hamper rescue efforts.

 

Vodafone also suggests that customers leave a temporary message on their voicemail to let callers know the time and date, location and that they are OK. This provides some reassurance should mobile phone batteries go flat given the difficulties with power supply.

 

The next media update will be Thursday afternoon.

2degrees and Vodafone joint statement:

Dual SIM card phones to aid Christchurch recovery efforts

 

2degrees and Vodafone are providing Christchurch Earthquake Operations centre staff with dual-SIM card mobile phones to aid the rescue and recovery effort.

The LG 310 phones, which carry 2degrees and Vodafone SIM cards, will provide rescue staff with simultaneous access to both networks as they continue their investigation of premises around the city.

The benefit of ‘dual SIM’ mobile phones is that if one company’s network is not operating, the phone can make calls and texts on the other’s.

The companies have pre-loaded 200 of the phones with credit so they are ready to use immediately.

Although Vodafone and 2degrees operate their own separate networks in Christchurch, the underlying GSM technology is the same.  

4.30pm: Vodafone

The Vodafone network remains in a relatively strong position, with only 14 sites down, as reported this morning.  However, we have achieved coverage to most of the city with only a few black spots in the east and some call congestion in the Christchurch CBD area.  This is achieved through network management and optimisation.

Most sites that are still down are due to unavailability of power but at least two are confirmed to have physical damage which will take some time to restore.

Two COWS (cell sites on wheels) have already been deployed with a further five currently being rolled out within the city. This allows additional coverage or strengthens existing coverage.

Our mobile store truck – Optimus Prime has now reached Christchurch and will provide much needed support for customers from tomorrow morning.  Optimus Prime will be situated outside Hornby Mall and will offer customers a support facility, the ability to recharge their phones, top up and purchase prepay vouchers, obtain customer service information.  It will provide free wifi access and ten phones for members of the public to make free calls.

CEO of Vodafone NZ Russell Stanners will travel to Christchurch tomorrow to meet with Vodafone staff to assess their individual needs and how the company can assist. Russell will join Sandra Pickering, our Chief Technology Officer, and various other staff who have arrived to assist the local team.

Vodafone Fiji has now joined both Vodafone NZ and Vodafone UK in our Red Alert appeal by contributing $59K.  This is a heartfelt gesture and gives an insight into the concern felt well beyond the shores of NZ.  Vodafone NZ customers can donate either $3 or $5 to the cause by TXTing ‘Quake’ to either 333 ($3 donation) or 555 ($5 donation). 100% of all donations will go to the NZ Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal.

The technology teams will continue to restore, refuel and reparent cell sites over night. The priority is refuelling generators to keep sites working and ensuring our transmission network remains stable while keeping staff safe at all times.

The company’s earlier advice requesting customers to save their phones for short emergency calls, and use txt for non-critical communications, still stands.

Vodafone still asks that customers limit mobile data usage (Facebook, Twitter, video/picture messaging, email) as this puts strain on the network and may hamper rescue efforts.

Vodafone also suggests that customers leave a temporary message* on their voicemail to let callers know the time and date, location and that they are OK. This provides some reassurance should mobile phone batteries go flat given the difficulties with power supply.

The next media update will be sent Friday morning.

Gen-i CEO Australasia, Chris Quin:

I am writing with another update from Gen-i and Telecom on our work to support the people of Canterbury by maintaining and restoring ICT and telecommunications services in the region.

It has been humbling and inspiring to witness the stories on how people and organisations in the Canterbury region, across New Zealand and worldwide are all rallying to help.

Right now, our first priority continues to be on supporting the emergency services, civil defence, health and safety and government agencies as they continue to mobilise people and resources in Christchurch to lead and support the rescue effort.

We are committed to being there to support these efforts every step of the way back.

The current situation for the Telecom and Gen-i communications and IT services in Canterbury is as follows:

Our big priority has been making sure all our people and their families are safe, and we’ve very nearly accounted for all our folk right across the Telecom Group.  Like many of you, we have people seriously affected and we’re doing everything we can to support them and their families.

We have seen a good response to Telecom’s campaign to collect analogue landline phones from around the country to distribute to people in Christchurch without power who only have cordless landline phones which are reliant on power. These phones plug straight into a jack-point and don’t require mains power.  Spare analogue phones can be dropped into any Telecom store during retail opening hours.

The network is still affected by ongoing power issues, particularly in the eastern parts of the city, and physical disruption caused by Tuesday’s earthquake.

Our focus remains on restoring and maintaining mobile cell sites in the CBD. All central city cell sites that are operational have been connected to generators to keep them running. 

Our data centers remain operable.  Our ICT Operations teams are monitoring our Christchurch data center sites closely with temperature and humidity levels stable.  Access to our 109 Hereford Street site is restricted due to the nearby Hotel Grand Chancellor in danger of collapse, but our generators are well fuelled to sustain service for a long period of time and we are working with clients to maintain services remotely.  

Our managed networks are performing well.  As the needs of the emergency service providers have been sustainably met, we’ve started to work with core service providers to maintain other essential communications services.

Telecom has delivered a further 33 generators from around the country with assistance from the New Zealand Air Force. These are due to arrive in Christchurch shortly to assist cell sites that are still without mains power.

111 services are operating smoothly and emergency services are steady.

Chorus has asked Canterbury residents who are experiencing disruption to their landline or broadband service, to contact the company that provides their internet and phone services directly to log a fault. This will help Chorus to ascertain the true extent of network damage, enabling them to plan and restore service as quickly as possible.

For updates

If there is anything more that we can do to support your business and your people during this time, please contact your Client Manager, myself or your normal service contacts at our MCC. Alternatively, please visit www.gen-i.co.nz, www.telecom.co.nz, as well as @Geni_ICT or @chrisjquin on Twitter and Facebook for further updates.

It is hard to capture in words the pain and loss felt by the people of Canterbury and across New Zealand. We all feel connected to the suffering and pray for the safe return of loved ones who are still missing.

The Gen-i team and I are all personally very committed to doing all we can to support you and the local community. 

Our efforts will continue for as long as it takes.

Kia kaha

Chris Quin

CEO Gen-i AustralasiaVodafone Friday February 25th

The Vodafone network remains in a relatively strong position, with all but 17 sites operational.  Coverage is in place for most of the city with only a few black spots in the east. This is achieved through network management, optimization* and the deployment of COWS (cell sites on wheels). Two have already been deployed with a further five currently being rolled out within the city. We currently have 30 sites running off generators.

Our mobile store truck – Optimus Prime is in Christchurch and is providing much needed support to the public.  Optimus Prime is located outside Hornby Mall and is offering customers a support facility, the ability to recharge their phones, top up and purchase prepay vouchers, obtain customer service information.  It is also providing free WiFi access and ten phones for members of the public to make free calls.

Vodafone customers have donated more than $125,000 via the Red Alert text appeal in association with the Red Cross. This already exceeds the total amount raised following the 4 September quake.

Vodafone NZ CEO, Russell Stanners has travelled down to Christchurch to meet with Vodafone staff to assess their individual needs and how the company can assist. Russell joins Sandra Pickering, our Chief Technology Officer, and other staff who have travelled to assist the local team.

Vodafone NZ, Vodafone UK and Vodafone Fiji have kicked off our Red Alert appeal by contributing more than $550,000.  Vodafone Qatar has provided a credit to its Kiwi customers to help them make calls home. This is a heartfelt gesture and gives an insight into the concern felt well beyond the shores of NZ.

Vodafone NZ customers can donate either $3 or $5 to the cause by TXTing ‘Quake’ to either 333 ($3 donation) or 555 ($5 donation). 100% of all donations will go to the NZ Red Cross 2011 Earthquake Appeal.

The technology teams will continue to restore, refuel and reparent cell sites. The priority is refueling generators to keep sites working and ensuring our transmission network remains stable while keeping staff safe at all times.

Vodafone also suggests that customers leave a temporary message** on their voicemail to let callers know the time and date, location and that they are OK. This provides some reassurance should mobile phone batteries go flat given the difficulties with power supply.

The next media update will be sent Friday afternoon.

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