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UK BT Broadband ISP Customers Hit by Cable Theft and USA Peering Woes

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012 (8:15 am) - Score 1,509
cable theft and damage uk police

BT’s national UK telecoms and retail ISP network has been hit by a double whammy of problems. A suspected cable theft is currently causing service outages across parts of the country, while a peering problem has hindered access to some website and triggered higher than normal levels of packet loss.

At this stage little is known about the cable theft, which occurred during the early hours of Monday morning, and BT tends not to say much until after an investigation has been conducted. But we do know that a significant number of the operators customers, which includes those of third party ISPs, are currently being affected by a loss of telephone and or broadband services.

The resulting service loss appears to have had a wide impact and is affecting telephone exchanges right across England and Wales, with the bulk being in the south and midlands. The situation follows on from a separate theft of copper telephone cable over one week ago, which took out services in Elmstead Market (Essex).

Telephone Exchange Areas Affected by the Cable Theft

Theydon Bois – 01992
York – 01904
Hammersmith – 02087
Cheddington – 01296
Euston – 0201, 0203, 0207
Holmewood – 01246
Camaes Bay – 01407
Shoreham – 012734
Llanfairfechan – 01342
Copthorne – 01342
Aylesbury – 01296
Wrexham – 01798
Garvagh – 02829

As if that wasn’t bad enough then BT Retail’s network, including those of several other UK ISPs, are currently suffering from a mix of major packet loss and high latency (lag). This appears to be the result of a peering problem with a third party network.

The situation, which is referenced on BT’s community forums and started last Friday (5th October), also resulted in customers being unable to access some online services and a large number of websites in the USA (plus a few in the UK). The problem itself is believed to have originated with AboveNet (Zayo) in the US.

The good news is that the peering issue appears to be on the mend, although many customers remain frustrated that it took BT three or four days before their service status page began to reflect it. Still BT is in good company, with O2 (BE Broadband) and Virgin Media both having suffered similar issues over the past few months.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he is also the founder of ISPreview since 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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9 Responses
  1. Kyle

    So much for BT’s network theft control centre that was setup some 6 months ago! What a useful investment that was…

    • FibreFred

      And what are you basing that on because it failed to stop one theft in particular? Has it stopped many others? Has it stopped many thefts and already paid for itself? Or has it failed to stop any thefts at all where it is in use?

  2. Phil

    Thefts is always target BT copper cable, what next ? probably fiber cable! UK is a joke and never learn from it how to avoid any future thefts!

    The government should change all metal, copper will be selling at ZERO price!

  3. Bob

    Why should coper theft knock out places across the UK.?I though BT claimed all their core network was Fibre?

    • FibreFred

      Exactly, we don’t know what cable it was it doesn’t say. It could well be thieves after copper but got fibre instead.

    • I’ve already asked Openreach for more details as we’re also surprised that copper theft would be affecting so many areas, as detailed above and on BT’s status page. But certainly cable theft could result in damage to vital cables and sometimes exchange equipment, which can “affect” other areas but such incidents are usually localised to a specific region.

      I can’t help but wonder whether or not this is the new cable damage notification system getting its proverbial wires crossed.

  4. BT’s network consists of a majority of copper. They are still using copper from the cabs to the premises and fibre from the cab to the exchange. BT still has parts of there network also consisting of aluminium which would of been laid back in the 70’s. Copper theft is more common to happen but if these guys/women have stolen fibre cable instead of the copper they where looking then they will end up selling that at a higher price cause fibre is alot more expensive than copper hence the reason why funding needed to happen from the government and other service providers so BT could lay there fibre network.

    • Bob

      Where exactly do you get the idea that Fibre is expensive? It is way cheaper than copper and besides there is not much of a market for stolen Fibre

    • Kyle

      The cost of fibre has no relationship with the cost of deploying fibre-based internet access! The majority of the cost is bureaucracy, followed by labour and the actual trenching itself.

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