WE look upon smart phones as wonderful new technology and have become reliant on them.
But that technology has shown its shortcomings in recent days.
Even prior to the fire emergency the local network was struggling with the influx of tourists in the area.
Communications officer at the Shoalhaven Emergency Operations centre Brian Shearing said communications in the area, especially around Jerrawangala where the fire crossed the Princes Highway, was struggling.
“Even before the event started communications with Telstra and Optus in some areas has been patchy because of the number of tourists in town with smart phones,” he said.
“We haven’t had any reports of losing towers and things like that in the fires but we do know that Telstra has lost power to its tower at Jerrawangala Lookout where the fire came through and that is also affecting services for Optus and Vodafone customers.
“It has definitely been affecting communications in the whole area, phone services as well as internet.
“Telstra is trying to organise to get a generator back into that site to re-establish power and they are working with the RFS to try and do that.
“At one stage on Tuesday night Vodafone turned off the power to one of its sites in the area, but that was mainly a communications site for its own system but it was back up and running with a generator.”
Mr Shearing said while smart phones were a great resource they drew more on the network.
“Everyone has smart phones and they are looking up RFS websites, weather sites to find out what is happening with the fires, and just Facebooking. It all creates a lot of extra traffic which affects the network,” he said.