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Parts of Singtel's Optus network disrupted by fires

Firefighters battling the blaze at Meroo National Park; the fires have affected parts of the Optus telecom network in New South Wales and Victoria states.


TWO Singapore blue chips with footprints in rural or regional Australia have found themselves a little too close for comfort to the wildfires tearing through the south-east.

The fires have affected parts of the Optus telecom network in New South Wales and Victoria states, a spokesman for parent company Singtel told The Business Times when asked.

"Optus is working closely with the relevant emergency services to access mobile infrastructure to restore services as a priority," she added, without giving the expected financial impact of the fires on its operations.

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Separately, while ComfortDelGro runs bus services in the stricken states of New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland, including on regional routes, none of its services are directly affected by the blazes, it said.

And the group's bus depots, which are in industrial areas, face "low to moderate exposure to bushfire risk" for now, the transport operator told media in an update on Monday.

But Nicholas Yap, chief executive of ComfortDelGro Corporation Australia, said that "we can never leave anything to chance" and noted that depot evacuation plans include the emergency relocation of staff and buses "for operations to continue".

"We continue to monitor the situation and are working closely with the authorities to ensure the safety of our staff and commuters," he added.

ComfortDelGro has also set up a relief fund, seeded with A$250,000 (S$234,600), to support Australian firefighting efforts.

Grants will come out of that pool for staff who have had to evacuate or who have lost their homes. The company will also provide emergency service volunteers with paid leave and transport, ComfortDelGro said in a statement after queries from BT.

Similarly, Singtel's spokesman said Optus could offer financial help to customers affected by the fires, such as free suspension or cancellation of fixed lines, more time to pay bills, or even bill waivers "in instances of extreme financial hardship".

The telco will also cover volunteer firefighters' mobile service costs for December and January, she added.

Singtel closed down on Monday by S$0.02, or 0.59 per cent, to S$3.35, before the news. ComfortDelGro shed S$0.04, or 1.7 per cent, to S$2.32.