Saboteurs have caused an NBN fixed wireless tower in Victoria’s Gippsland region to collapse, the second such incident in the area in the past four years.
The collapsed tower caused an outage for about 320 premises, although an NBN Co spokesperson told iTnews around 220 of those were now being served by other towers in the area.
East Gippsland Police said they are “investigating the circumstances surrounding damage to a communications tower in Mount Taylor”, which is located about 13km from Bairnsdale.
It appears the tower may have been damaged up to a fortnight ago but that the structure only gave way at the beginning of last weekend.
“Investigators have been told unknown offenders damaged the phone tower situated on Mount Lookout Road sometime between Friday October 29 and Friday November 12,” police said.
“The damage then caused the tower to collapse and damage the surrounding fencing on Friday night, November 12.”
NBN Co showed the Mount Taylor tower as being impacted by an “unplanned outage” on its official status page, with no ETA for resolution.
An NBN Co spokesperson confirmed the tower outage to iTnews but not that it had been vandalised, nor that it had collapsed.
However, the company pointed to the need to install “temporary infrastructure”, providing a strong indication of a catastrophic event.
A photo shared on Facebook purported to show the tower and radio infrastructure lying on its side in a paddock.
iTnews was able to independently verify it was an NBN tower that had been felled.
NBN Co said that “a single fixed wireless tower in the Bairnsdale area of Victoria is currently offline.”
“NBN Co has successfully migrated around 220 premises to be served by alternative fixed wireless infrastructure in the area. Approximately 100 premises in the area remain offline,” a spokesperson said.
“Technical investigations are ongoing and NBN Co is assessing the viability of installing temporary infrastructure to restore broadband services to the premises that remain affected.
“The company apologises to customers in the area that may be temporarily inconvenienced.
“The company has 21 other NBN fixed wireless towers in the area around Bairnsdale and Lakes Entrance and, wherever possible, the company has transferred premises on to alternative infrastructure facilities to maintain continuity of internet services.”
East Gippsland Police investigators want to “speak to anyone who may have witnessed suspicious behaviour at this site or any communications towers in Bairnsdale and surrounding areas.”
Police were involved in a similar investigation in mid-2018 when a different NBN tower in the same area was brought down, allegedly by someone interfering with the bolts that secured the tower to the ground.
It is unclear if the culprit or culprits involved in that incident were ever found.
Anyone with information is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or to submit a confidential crime report here.