Tech Industry

A lightning strike just knocked out 000 calls across half of Australia

A major fault in a Telstra cable left people across Australia unable to make emergency calls.

Turns out lightning and phone cables don't mix. 

A major fault in a Telstra cable left people in NSW, Victoria and WA with only "intermittent" access to make emergency calls on Friday morning. 

But while Telstra initially blamed the outage on a cable cut caused by an "unknown party", technicians later discovered the outage was caused by a lightning strike and a resulting fire in a cable pit.

The damage occurred in a cable pit east of Orange in central western NSW (about three hours west of Sydney), but had knock on effects across the state and the rest of the country.

Telstra first detected the problem shortly after 2 a.m. on Friday morning, before routers affected by the outage were brought back online at 4:50 a.m. and services began returning to normal. 

The ABC reports some calls were getting through across NSW, Victoria and WA. Queensland and South Australian emergency services reported calls were coming through to their services without any issue.

It's the second major outage for Telstra this week, after a technical issue with an exchange in Melbourne left many Telstra customers unable to make 4G calls on Wednesday. NSW Police also advised customers during that outage they may have difficulty making emergency calls.

The outage double whammy this week also echoes Telstra's woes in 2016 when two major outages in as many months left the telco apologising to customers and offering free data to make up for the problems.

CNET Magazine: Check out a sample of the stories in CNET's newsstand edition.

Rebooting the Reef: CNET dives deep into how tech can help save Australia's Great Barrier Reef.