Qld community suffers phone outage

·2-min read

An isolated Indigenous community in Queensland has been left without any phone lines or internet for five days.

About 800 Lockhart River residents lost landline and internet connections on February 2, then mobile services went down on Saturday.

Telstra, which is the town's sole telecommunications provider, finally restored phone services on Thursday afternoon.

Mayor Wayne Butcher says the nine day outage was extremely risky to public safety and damaging for businesses.

"If anyone is stranded or broken down somewhere, we can't help them," Mr Butcher said in a statement.

"It's not safe, if there was a cyclone coming we wouldn't be able to keep up to date with information and we wouldn't be able to warn people properly.

"And, we are cut off from all road transport - in short, it's bloody hard to run a business in remote Cape York and Telstra is being less than helpful."

Lockhart River's only grocery store uses a satellite service to operate their tills.

But the outage disabled its petrol bowsers meaning no one has been able to refuel their cars for work or recreation.

The Lockhart River region has an extensive history of telecommunications issues, which tend to happen in the wet season when these services are needed the most.

Council chief executive David Clarke told AAP that in 2018 the town went without contact with the outside world for six weeks after lightning struck a phone tower.

"Lockhart operates off a 3G service and is the only town on the Cape without fibre optic connectivity and that's due to the geographical surroundings with mountains and water crossings," he said.

"Proposed infrastructure upgrades to install better connectivity for the area are near the $10 million mark.

"We don't have the user base to justify the investment levels, so there would have to be some federal grant funds allocated to get a meaningful solution in place."

Telstra told AAP that the outages were caused by intermittent failures at a site in Batavia Downs.

"The outage that impacted residents of Lockhart River was caused by intermittent power and transmission failures at a solar power site in Batavia Downs which affected mobile services in the area, including fixed line phone and internet for businesses and residential customers," the company said in a statement.

"We can confirm that fixed and mobile services to the region were restored around 2pm Thursday following the delivery of parts and technicians by helicopter as a priority yesterday and today."

Telstra thanked the residents, council and mayor of the region for their patience and understood their frustrations.