BT’s national UK phone and broadband network, especially along some of the hardest hit coastal and river areas, has taken a severe battering over the Christmas and New Year period after a series of violent storms turned gale force winds, heavy rain and flooding into an almost daily occurrence.
The situation means that BTOpenreach, which maintains the telecoms network, has been forced to declare a status of Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control (MBORC) across several regions. This represents the areas where Openreach’s engineers give repairs priority, which can often result in slower lead times for new services.
Openreach Status Update
“Much of the country [has been hit by] severe weather, including gale force winds, heavy rain and flooding. The exceptional conditions resulted in damage to our network, both above and below ground and, as a result, we have seen a major increase in fault intake across the affected areas.
The damage and fault volumes we have seen in some areas due to the weather are so severe that we need to prioritise as much available resource as possible to repair to bring these areas back to BAU levels as soon as possible.
We will be monitoring the situation and will remove MBORC from these areas as soon as service can be restored to levels they were at immediately before this severe weather.”
The current locations with MBORC in place:
North East Scotland
Highlands & Islands
South West Scotland
A spokeswoman for Openreach advised ISPreview.co.uk that they “never take MBORC declarations lightly; all affected areas go through a rigorous governance process, and we only ever apply it to the minimum areas and activities affected by the event“.
The latest formal update from Openreach on the situation, which was issued at the end of last week (another is likely to be released tomorrow), confirmed that the operator expected the repair work stack to stand at 40,000 issues by the middle of this week before falling to around 35,000 by the end of the week and under 30,000 come the end of next week (note: this prediction was made before Sunday/Monday’s storm hit).
However Openreach also warned that some of the worst hit areas, such as Wessex, are “likely to take longer to recover“. So far Openreach’s telecoms engineers have completed 90,000+ repair and installation jobs over Christmas week and a “record number” were working over the New Year holiday, completing around 115k similar jobs.
Apparently Openreach are planning for around 175k repair and installation jobs this week but this could be affected by continued access issues to villages and towns and also the huge level of movement needed to get engineers to the hardest hit areas. Not to mention the on-going weather conditions, which are constantly creating new problems.
Despite all this, Openreach claim that lead-times for new installations are within the 12 day SLA nationally, although this obviously excludes the large number of areas where MBORC is in place; sadly there’s no similar figure for the MBORC locations. Never the less Openreach told ISPreview.co.uk that it was “coping very well despite the challenging conditions” but warned that the situation was “very fluid” because of the current weather.