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Criminals Knock Out Critical BT Broadband and Phone Services in Oldham

Friday, June 28th, 2013 (8:31 am) - Score 2,082
cable theft and damage uk police

BTOpenreach has declared a Serious Incident (SI) after criminals cut through and damaged seven of its vital fibre optic and copper cables in the Oldham (Greater Manchester, England) area just before midnight on Wednesday, which is affecting broadband and phone services across the region.

It’s understood that around 15 telephone exchanges have been directly affected by the situation (though some ISPs claim that the knock-on impact has been felt across around 95 exchanges), although BT said that the “complexity of the incident” was preventing them from being able to say precisely how many broadband and phone customers had been left without a service (we expect it’s into the thousands).

Openreach informed ISPreview.co.uk that the damage occurred next to the A62 and that their engineers have now pulled in new lengths of cable and are slowly reconnecting services, often working through the night.‬‪‬‪ Sadly the on-going incident is continuing to impact some local services and ISP connections.

A number of TV viewers in the North West also lost service just before midnight but BT’s engineers were able to restore their transmission at around 1.30am.‬‪ Openreach advised that they are “working to restore services to the remaining customers as soon as possible.‬‪‬‪”

Kevin Brown, GM of BT’s Metal Theft Task Force, told ISPreview.co.uk:

I would urge anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area to contact the police or Crimestoppers. Metal theft generates thousands of faults on BT’s network every year and remains a priority for BT.”‬‪

An Openreach partnership with Crimestoppers offers up to £1,000 as a reward for information leading to arrests and subsequent successful convictions. People can call anonymously and free on 0800 555 111. ‬‪BT said they were working closely with Greater Manchester Police to investigate the incident.

Some of the impacted exchanges appear to include Bury, Ramsbottom, Turton, Tottington, Oldham, Saddleworth, Ashton, Todmorden, Bacup, Middleton, Littleborough, Rochdale, Heywood and Shaw. Thieves often target BT’s lucrative copper cable but it’s not known precisely how much was stolen.

UPDATE 8:47am

The issue appears to mostly be hurting traffic that runs over TalkTalk’s broadband and phone network, including ISPs that use their wholesale platform, but it’s also impacting others too and is being felt in areas across the whole region.

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