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Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are hoping the next few days will see them beginning to get on top in their battle to repair the ravages Cyclone Yasi wrought on their networks. They’re not there yet.

Telstra, Optus and Vodafone are hoping the next few days will see them beginning to get on top in their battle to repair the ravages Cyclone Yasi wrought on their networks. They’re not there yet.

More than 60,000 people in North Queensland were left without telephony and Internet services over the weekend, following the battering by Yasi, which brought down overhead lines and power poles, and battered mobile towers.

The 250km/h-plus winds, torrential rain and coastal tide surges saw large sections of the area between Townsville and Cairns left without power – a major problem for all three telcos’ mobile towers.

A Telstra report yesterday said main power had now been restored in some affected areas, but 44,000 landline services were still out – down from 67,000 on Saturday.

“In addition, we have had a reduction in the number of mobile towers without service from 87 yesterday to 56 today. Our mobile network is operating well, as impacted sites often have overlapping coverage. The number of affected landline and mobile sites will vary, due to power, access and damage,” the report said.

The number of network sites in the region without mains power had been reduced from 410 to 313; the number of priority sites being supported by generators rose to more than 80.

Telstra had some 200 technicians scrambling to restore services over the weekend but some affected sites could not be accessed due to safety reasons, like damaged power lines and debris blocking access.

– Optus originally reported 87 mobile stations being knocked offline – but yesterday said a number were back operating on battery power.

By 1pm yesterday Optus said 20 had been restored and its mobile network was operational in Mackay, Cairns, Townsville, Ingham and Tully.

The Optus Open mobile network still had 30 base stations impacted between Cairns and Mackay, with a number of base stations running off back-up batteries or generators.

Priority was being given to restoring mobile services via a satellite portable base station at Mission Beach. A second satellite portable mobile base station was due to arrive at Mission Beach by Sunday evening.

In Ingham, Tully and Innisfail, Optus reps distributed prepaid mobile handsets, loaded with $600 of credit, to people who no longer had access to telecoms services, even if they weren’t Optus customers.

– Vodafone remained seriously affected, despite restoring services in Mackay and some areas in and around Cairns.

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