Several ISPs and telcos including Vodafone, Vocus, ICONZ, Araneo and Kordia saw hour-long disruptions to customers’ data and telecommunications traffic this afternoon when a fire broke out in the Sky Tower. The fire service evacuated the Sky Tower around 1.30 after a generator caught fire. Hard hit by the outage were Vodafone’s customers that experienced loss of 3G voice and data service, as well as SMS messaging for around an hour. However, Vodafone’s GSM network is believed to have remained up during the outage, so voice calls and GPRS data were still possible. Vodafone spokesman Paul Brislen confirmed the outage and issued a statement to Computerworld that said: “Due to a fire in the Skytower Vodafone lost internet access for an hour this afternoon (between 1:40pm and 2:40pm)”. Services are coming back up now. Even though this is a rare occurrence Vodafone is actioning new resiliency to ensure continuity of services for our customer in the future.” ISPs in the Sky Tower were denied access to the communications room on level 47 by the Fire Brigade, and their equipment went onto battery power as the mains electricity supply to the Sky Tower was cut off. At around 2.30 in the afternoon, the providers reported that services were returning online for customers. Sky City executive Peter Tracey says the fire didn't happen in the Sky Tower itself, but in a plant in the adjoining Federal Street.
As smoke was seen coming out of the Federal Street plant, Tracey says the entire Sky City complex was evacuated. Tracey couldn't explain why the ISPs and telcos in the Sky Tower suffered disruptions, but said it may have been due to a power surge.