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UPDATE BT Openreach Engineer Woes Return as Bad Weather Hits UK

Friday, November 30th, 2012 (4:10 pm) - Score 1,617

BTOpenreach, which manages access to and maintains BT’s national UK phone and broadband network, looks set to suffer worsening delays to the provision of new services after the recent spate of “extremely high rainfall and some flooding” forced the group to re-focus its telecoms engineers on repair work.

Officially Openreach has had to re-declare a status of Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control (MBORC) across a significant chunk of the United Kingdom, which references regions where serious damage to their network can slow lead times while repairs take priority. Openreach only cleared its previous MBORC status two weeks ago.

Openreach Status Update (30th November 2012)

It will probably come as little surprise that due to the recent severe weather conditions witnessed in many parts of the UK, Openreach, with regret, will declare MBORC for repair activities on the following 11 areas with effect from 14:00 today 30th November 2012:-

North Wales

In these areas, we have seen extremely high rainfall and some flooding that has severely restricted access to our network apparatus and our underground infrastructure that is heavily impacted.

We are directing available resource into these areas to bring the position back to normality as quickly as possible.

We are closely monitoring these recovery actions and will remove MBORC as soon as service can be restored to the levels they were at immediately before the recent poor weather.

Finally, we would like to thank our customers for their patience during this very difficult time.

The move, while completely understandable, is likely to result in frustration for ISPs. Many providers are already having to cope with a growing number of unhappy customers, some of which have had to wait months to get a new service installed.

UPDATE 4th December 2012

The Independent Office of the Telecommunications Adjudicator (OTA2) latest monthly report confirms that “the recent extreme weather conditions experienced around the UK over the last 2 weeks has driven a 3-fold increase in repair faults relative to what Openreach would normally expect at this time of the year“.

On top of that Openreach’s Plan & Build performance has “deteriorated in the last 2 months due to external supply chain issues“, which are being “urgently tackled” by Openreach senior management. A recovery plan is said to be underway, which should normalise performance by end of the year.

Leave a Comment
19 Responses
  1. Avatar Darren says:

    Customers can put up with occasional delays due to MBORC, but the weather is just going to get more eratic and extreme year on year. They need more staff to deal with it before they find themselves in a constant state of MBORC (which is nearly already the case).

    The fire service doesn’t declare MBORC and give weeks or months lead time for a callout.

    Delayed installs, missed appointments and inefficient management of engineers time is no doubt costing the economy not to mention infuriating CPs and EUs.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Lol I don’t think a comparison to the fire service is a good one to be fair

    2. Avatar Darren says:

      Lol don’t be silly. They are both vital services, to a different degree grated but they are still simular in that regard. A perfectly good comparison when taken in the correct context to be fair.

    3. Avatar DTMark says:

      This is only the case because there is no consumer choice at all outside cabled areas.

      If there were any market at this level, then customers would simply cancel their direct debits, tell their ISP to go away (politely) and go elsewhere to a different infrastructure, or alternatively, compare the quality of say BT’s creaking old copper and alu network against say a fibre network and make their choice.

  2. Avatar captain.cretin says:

    Even BTS FTTC tech is a kludge, over 1200 of us in Malvern lost our phone and internet due to rain last week; why?? Because although BT have fitted fibre cabinets, they are feeding the actual exchange boxes with ancient copper cables, and these cables gave out when the service trenches flooded.(The new cabinets being about 4-6 meters away from the existing ones).
    These old cables are so ropey, that I saw almost no improvement in download speeds after the upgrade, and after we have heavy rain these days, those speeds get a little bit worse; after peaking at nearly 7Mbps, my speeds are back down to 5.5-6Mbps and dropping.

    1. Avatar Fibrefred says:

      You get a peak of 7Mbps on FTTC ? are you sure you are on FTTC ?

  3. Avatar captain.cretin says:

    No, I am not on a FTTC package per se, but the FTTC upgrade meant my old “Up to 8Mb” package became an “Up to 24Mb” package, and as the distance between my house and the cabinet where the copper is swapped to fibre is no more than 30-50 meters, I expected an improvement slightly beyond gaining 1/2 MB down and 3/4Mb up.

    1. Avatar TheFacts says:

      Going to an ‘up to 24M’ package means moving to ADSL2+, nothing to do with FTTC.

    2. Avatar DTMark says:

      The fibre upgrade and the 21CN ADSL2+ upgrade aren’t related, you can have one without the other, though it seems in your case, the upgrades co-incided.

      Your “path” back to the exchange is the same as it ever was and apart from doubling the upstream won’t make much if any difference to the downstream unless you already achieve most of the 8Meg on the 8meg package – example of one line here – just over 3km long, ran at 6Meg (/8Meg possible), upgraded and ran at 6.7Meg (/24Meg possible).

      The copper bit can go “underwater” in either case, FTTC or ADSL2+ though it’s arguably more likely with the latter simply because it’s longer.

  4. Avatar captain.cretin says:

    That was my original understanding, but that is NOT what the BT engineer working on the 1200+ outages told me, the copper lines are now going to the Fibre cabinet, and from there back to the exchange, and even the copper cable connecting the two is due to be replaced with fibre in the near future.
    This actually makes MORE sense than rolling out both systems.
    When BT get round to replacing that ancient cable I will hopefully see a speed and reliability improvement.

    1. Avatar FibreFred says:

      That is rubbish, if your copper went to the fibre cab you would be on FTTC

  5. Avatar captain.cretin says:

    I would expect BT to do the same as they did with early adsl packages, and restrict you to “x” speed unless you paid the premium.
    I KNOW this can be done in either software or firmware because years ago, when I was on a 1/2 Mb package they made a mistake doing a repair, and I received 2.5Mb (my line max at the time), for about 5 months until someone noticed.

    The point is, why do 21cn when you are fitting fibre to the same area? It makes more sense, both economically AND technologically, to just connect everything to the fibre.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      It would, but for the Government’s “target” of 2Meg narrowband for everyone.

      By installing ADSL2+ at the exchange some of the lines just tip over into the 2Meg forecast territory enabling a box to be ticked.

      As an example here – got about 1.5Meg on ADSL Max, ditched that useless narrowband and upgraded to 3G instead.

      In the meantime exchange upgraded to ADSL2+ now gives line speed forecast of 2.5Meg – box ticked, USC theoretically met.

      Had the minimum target been, say, a fairly paltry 10Meg for “basic broadband” then your conclusion would be accurate.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Why is it more economical to fit fibre instead of ADSL2+ ?

      ADSL2+ is just a change in the exchange, FTTC is a new contract, home visit, visit to the cab, new modem and hub …….. its not the same

    3. Avatar zemadeiran says:

      Because photons are cheaper then electrons…

  6. Avatar captain.cretin says:

    Fibre has a MUCH higher carrying capacity than copper, it is cheaper and has virtually no scrap value; it also has no problems with being immersed in water,, doesnt degrade in the same way copper does, and needs fewer relay stations to boost the signal.

    And as I said, if you are ALREADY putting in fibre, why mess around and waste money installing 21cn as well, just hook everyone up to the fibre at the cabinet, but restrict the speeds to match the package people are paying for.

    1. Avatar DTMark says:

      The BDUK project was a split between 90% to get superfast broadband at 24Meg or better, and 10% to get a minimum USC of 2Meg. Though it’s highly debatable whether either will be achieved.

      ADSL2+ nudges the headline rates up just enough to just reduce the cost of reaching the 10% by a little, at least on the speed forecasts it does. The line here is forecast to manage a blazing 2.5Meg on ADSL2+ now if I had it reconnected.

      Box ticked. A few less satellite connections to give out grants for. A few less people defecting to 3G (like us) or 4G in search of some performance. And it only needs some equipment put in at the exchange, dead simple and cheap compared with the cabinets. So it’s not just about you, but everyone using that exchange.

      If your cabinet is enabled, and you can get the fibre service, which isn’t necessarily true depending on line length and quality, there’s the matter of paying for someone to go to the cabinet and join some wires together and then test the line at the premises, which means the upgrade would probably be chargeable, and some people might not want to pay for that.

    2. Avatar FibreFred says:

      Obviously it is lost on you 🙂

    3. Avatar TheFacts says:

      The copper is currently still needed for the voice connection which could be from a different supplier to the broadband.

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