IBM sends hardware, engineers to Christchurch

IBM has sent two truckloads of computer equipment to Christchurch and flown in five engineers and spare parts from Australia to try to ensure businesses affected by Saturday's earthquake can get working as quickly as possible. Sales manager Phil Patton expected companies would need to replace broken computers and monitors, but thought it would be tomorrow or the next day before the scale of any problems became clear. IBM began readying the supplies hours after the earthquake struck, "so we could be on standby and ready for customers, without knowing what they would need". Hewlett-Packard had staff and supplies "available on standby" if needed. Patton said it was not yet clear when staff would be able to return to IBM's Hereford St office. Telecom offered to fly some staff out of the city for the rest of the week so they could work while its office, also in Hereford St, remained closed. Spokeswoman Katherine Murphy said the focus was on supporting Christchurch staff. Tait Electronics managing director Frank Owen said about 80 percent of its 630 staff were back at work yesterday. A few ceiling panels collapsed and computers "toppled off desks", but its manufacturing and customer support services were operating normally. From its Harewood headquarters, software-maker Jade runs computer systems for companies around the world. Chief innovation officer John Ascroft said Jade went to backup power and there were no service interruptions. Engineers inspected its building and Ascroft expected staff could return to work tomorrow. Christchurch internet provider Snap reported no damage to its $2 million Sydenham datacentre. There were reports of some Sky Television set-top boxes giving up the ghost. Company spokesman Tony O'Brien said calls to its contact centre had increased but it was coping well, indicating problems were not widespread. TelstraClear spokesman David Courtney said all but three of its 80 telecommunications cabinets were back on mains power by yesterday afternoon, but about 800 cable customers were without broadband and pay TV. Telecom said its fixed-line network and both mobile networks were performing well. Some equipment was still being powered by portable generators.

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