BUSINESS owners in Uralla could have lost tens of thousands of dollars, after a planned Telstra outage left the shire without EFTPOS and communication networks for six days.
The internet and mobile service provider went offline on March 16, causing a continuous outage for those with the provider.
Uralla Shire Business Chamber chair, David Mailler, said the prolonged outage had reduced local businesses to cash only services.
"The expectation was there would be some inconvenience and that the announced interruption to service for the upgrade would not lead to the local community being plunged into this huge communication blackhole," Mr Mailler said.
Despite cash being the only way to trade for many local businesses, the only ATM in town has also been non-operational for the past six days, due to the outage.
"It had a double whammy effect," Mr Mailler said.
"The community was starved of cash."
With Uralla's economy reliant on traffic passing through on the weekends, Mr Mailler said the atmosphere over the two days was "palpable", with no phone service or payment options driving visitors away.
One business owner that felt the impacts was ThunderGraphics owner Teresa French, who said her trophy and trinket shop only made around a quarter of their usual sales over the weekend.
"They just cut the whole town off just like that," Ms French said.
Ms French said she was relying on last weekend's trade to make up some lost ground, after she was forced to shut her store and relocate over the last two weeks due to flooding.
"We were deliberately opening on this weekend so we could recoup some of those costs, but then this happens and the whole town's affected," she said.
Some business owners went so far as to purchase internet dongle accessories from other providers, just to be able to trade.
While some residents were notified via text message about the planned outages on March 11, Ms French said she never received any warning.
The lack of communication has led Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall to slam Telstra and call for the Federal Government to intervene.
"The lack of communication from Telstra on the true impact of this outage prior to it starting is galling. The irony is that any updates on when services may resume require data to be viewed online," Mr Marshall said.
"Where is the sense in that?"
Uralla will host 'Seasons of New England' this weekend and Mr Marshall said if service isn't restored by then, it will be "disastrous".
"The economic fall-out for vendors and local businesses not having service in the lead up to, and during this event will be disastrous, and it will be Telstra who is accountable," he said.
Regional general manager for Telstra in NSW, Mike Moram, assured residents the service will be back up and running in time for the event, with work expected to be wrapped up by Monday afternoon.
"Telstra apologises for any inconvenience caused as a result of this network upgrade," Mr Moram said.
Mr Moram said the prolonged outage was necessary to replace a series of antennas and technical equipment that would improve the town's 4G capacity.
"As the tower is 30 metres high, our crews need to work during daylight for safety, but we only switched off the site when we needed to," he said.
Mr Moram advised residents and business owners to consider having alternative connectivity options to minimise the impact on trade in the future.
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