PEOPLE in south west Victoria could be without landline phones for days as Telstra scrambles to restore services.
About 60,000 landlines, 15,000 internet customers and several mobile towers were knocked out of service after a fire in the company's Warrnambool exchange yesterday.
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The company said technicians worked overnight to secure the site, repair the roof, restore mains powers and start restoring some services, especially mobiles.
This morning Warrnambool's Deakin University tweeted it had internet connection but no video conferencing.
The Warrnambool Standard is reporting outlaying areas including Port Fairy have mobile coverage.
Telstra spokesman James Howe said mobile services would be restored today, but it would take a few days to get landlines and internet services running.
Optus landlines services have also been affected.
The service blackout yesterday covered from Portland to Camperdown and Hamilton to Warrnambool yesterday.
In a statement this morning Telstra spokesman James Howe said 3G services in Portland, Hamilton, Dartmoor, Coleraine and Mt Clay had been restored.
He said base stations in Edenhope, Port Fairy, Mt Kincaid and Coleraine had also been restored and the company was working on patching affected base stations through the Geelong and Ballarat exchanges.
Telstra has deployed eight Satellite Cells on Wheels to provide interim mobile services and moved two mobile exchanges to help restore landline and data services for emergency and essential services.
Yesterday local banks were unable to distribute funds and some retailers s were forced to close as Eftpos machines went offline.
Warrnambool retailer Gary Francis from Francis Photography and Framing said it was a busy time of year and the outages were a major disruption.
"It's a total inconvenience with Christmas coming," he said yesterday.
"Retail isn't in the best state at the moment, and we really need to capitalise on the Christmas shopping period."
Residents flocked to purchase pre-paid SIM cards as the Optus mobile network was not affected by the outage.
Residents with Telstra mobiles can dial 000 in an emergency with the company piggybacking off other carriers. People with only landlines were being advised yesterday to go to their nearest police station or hospital in an emergency.
Temporary phone lines are available for Warrnambool Police Station on 0481 389 783, Hamilton Police Station 0481 387 374 and Portland 0457 540 006.
Addition reporting from the Herald Sun.