The week did not begin well for residents of Aberdeen when on Monday morning communication with the outside world was largely cut off. Due to a Telkom problem, landlines were all down, leading to no internet service for all those relying on the Telkom connection. Just to cap it all, Vodacom service was also unavailable. Those with other cellphone service providers were able to make voice calls and send smses, but Whatsapp messages, even for those with data available, were transmitted erratically.
Initial reports were that there was a break in the cable between Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet mid morning on Monday. Those with cellphone signal reported the problem to the Telkom fault department by calling 10210, and were assured of notifications on the progress of the fault. Lengthy delays were experienced by those calling later to find out more information.
Soon after 6pm on Monday evening, the landline service was restored, along with the Vodacom signal. However, those wishing to use the internet were still unable to do so, with the sad message of “no internet access available” on countless computer monitors.
Communication between subscribers and Telkom left a lot to be desired. One resident was astounded to receive a call from Telkom on Monday evening, on her landline, with the caller asking in all seriousness “Is your landline working?”!
On Tuesday morning, there was still no internet service available, with no explanation forthcoming from Telkom other than that there was a fault. Shortly after 11am, those affected received an sms from Telkom saying that “Telkom ADSL has been restored” – but hedging their bets by continuing with “Reply to this SMS within 24 hours with “NO” if service is still faulty”. Needless to say, a flood of NO messages were sent!
Just after 4pm, another sms was sent to subscribers from Telkom, advising them that “the network outage in your area has been resolved” – but again, adding the proviso that “should a fault still exist on your service, please call 10210”. Once again, residents took to their phones, some having to wait more than half an hour, and others eventually giving up.
On Wednesday morning, a Telkom employee informed a resident that the initial problem occurred on Monday when a farmer at Brooklyn farm, about 24km from Graaff-Reinet on the Aberdeen road, dug out 11 Telkom poles, damaging the fibre-optic cable with his tractor in the process. There are allegations that this was a malicious act rather than an accident, and a case was opened with the Graaff-Reinet police by Telkom. According to a reliable source who did not want to be named, the farmer had applied for a new phone line about two years ago, but was told that there was no infrastructure available for a new line.
It is understood that when the repair was affected, the ADSL line should also have been operational again. However on Wednesday morning subscribers were still unable to access the internet, and according to a Telkom employee, the fault was at the Aberdeen exchange. Residents are frustrated and angry at the lack of communication from Telkom, and the fact that no efforts seem to have been made on Tuesday to fix the problem at the Aberdeen exchange. When a resident called the Telkom fault line on Wednesday morning to enquire about, he was just told that Telkom are aware of the fault and are working on it.
Eventually the ADSL was restored soon after noon on Wednesday, and residents breathed a collective sigh of relief thankful to once again be connected with the outside world.