West Coast residents have been asked to protect the broadband fibre optic cable after the eastern cable was lost in the earthquakes early yesterday.

In a statement, Spark said broadband services are reliant on the integrity of the western cable, which runs from Blenheim and Nelson down to Christchurch, via Greymouth.

If this cable was also damaged, "it would seriously degrade connectivity for much of the South Island".

To increase protection of this cable, Spark has cancelled permits for any earthworks or maintenance along the length of the cable.

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"We would ask for the assistance of New Zealanders who live along the length of the cable to ensure that they protect against any risk of damage," a Spark spokesman said.

Meanwhile, West Coast residents are still struggling to contact family members in Kaikoura.

Spark said the township is still experiencing significant cellphone, landline and broadband connectivity issues due to damage to physical infrastructure and power outages.

Five mobile cell sites around Kaikoura remained off-line late yesterday.
Spark said it is working hard to re-establish some mobile connection to the area.

- Greymouth Star