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Car Crash in Cwmfelin Knocks Out FTTC Broadband for Nearly One Week

Friday, January 5th, 2018 (9:36 am) - Score 1,837
cwmfelin fttc wales street cabinet

Residents of Cwmfelin, a village on the southern outskirts of Maesteg (Wales, UK), have been left without access to Openreach’s FTTC (VDSL) based “fibre broadband” network for almost a week after a car clipped the curb and ploughed into the operator’s cabinet before ending up on its roof.

Telecoms and broadband infrastructure can face many hazards, often from unpredictable elements like the weather but also from thieves and vehicle accidents. Unsurprisingly most such infrastructure tends to be built on streets and so every once in awhile a cabinet will meet its end on the bumper of a vehicle accident (examples here, here and here).

Sadly this is precisely what happened at 4pm on New Year’s Eve when a car struck one of Openreach’s cabinets opposite the Cross Inn on Maesteg Road in Cwmfelin (pictured above in better times). Suffice to say that residents have been far from pleased at the service outage that followed, with one local (Mr Luke) telling Wales Online that “it was a catastrophic failure and I don’t think they have put enough effort in myself into repairing it and into informing us.”

A Spokesperson for Openreach said:

“One of our engineers attended the damaged roadside cabinet on Maesteg Road in Cwmfelin on New Year’s Day to investigate and ensure the site was made safe following a road traffic accident.

Due to the location of the cabinet we had to arrange for traffic lights to be in place in order to carry out the repair works safely. These lights are in place today (Thursday) which has enabled our engineers to start work on replacing the shell of the damaged cabinet and joint the damaged cables.

Barring any unforeseen problems we anticipate completing this work and restoring full service to those residents that have been affected by the end of the week.”

In fairness if Openreach can get the area back online within a week then that would actually be pretty good for such a situation. We’ve seen similar incidents result in much longer outages (several weeks) and sometimes even after the cabinet has been replaced then the local FTTC broadband provision may remain disrupted until the power supply has been restored (i.e. due to dependence upon a flaky battery backup).

As usual the time that it takes to repair such damage isn’t merely decided by Openreach. Police need time to investigate the crime scene and if the work is likely to disrupt local traffic then the appropriate permissions have to be sought. As above, the power supply side is handled by a separate supplier and so any delays there can also impact the completion of repairs.

The problem may then be exasperated if the IDC connections and other cables have been damaged, both in the cabinet and going down into the ducts underneath, none of which are a quick fix. In this case it sounds as if the damage was much less significant than we’ve seen before and that may help to explain why the service looks set to be restored so quickly (assuming the main power supply will also be reconnected this week).

We should point out that the car crash itself, rather amazingly, resulted in no injuries.

Leave a Comment
11 Responses
  1. Avatar Asrab

    Hey Guys – in a situation such as this who foots the repair bill ?

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      The car driver’s insurers.

    • I’d assume the infrastructure is covered via insurance.

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      Repairs to infrastructure in such cases are definitely claimed against the driver’s insurance (assuming they are insured of course). It may be that in the first instance, the owner of the damaged asset will claim against their own insurance company, but for sure, that insurance company will seek to reclaim that against the driver’s insurance company.

      As to whether utilities carry insurance for their own infrastructure (beyond any necessary third party liability) is another matter. In the case of a company like BT which owns many tens of thousands of bits of roadside cabinetry, it’s highly questionable whether it would be cost effective to insure it. That’s simply because, over time, there will be a reasonably predictable rate of having to fix such things due to damage (whether by accident, vandalism or whatever). As such, it’s a reasonably predictable operating cost and an insurer would just, effectively, add a markup cost and add internal administration costs.

      A general rule is only insure against relatively rare and potentially extremely costly events (like your house burning down). Don’t insure against predictable, low-cost events.

      I should also add that the Openreach jointer who occasionally attends the local pub said the bill for my cabinet which got demolished in an accident a couple of years ago would be picked up by the driver’s insurer (including the bill for the four week long period of swapping batteries three times daily until the local supply company reconnected the mains).

  2. Avatar 3G Infinity (now 4G going on 5G)

    Its the same on land or at sea, if there is an object in the way (tree, cabinet, rock) someone’s going to hit it.

  3. Avatar Asrab

    The reason i ask – i know someone who had an accident and they damaged the street lamp and maybe a BT or Virgin media cabinet, the accident site got repaired but never heard from their insurance

    • Avatar Steve Jones

      There’s no reason why they should hear from their insurers. Claims like that will be settled directly with the insurance company. Whether the size of any claim as well as the fact one was made would be taken into account in the cost of a new policy, I don’t know. My suspicion is that, these days, insurers know all about the full cost of any payout (and they share information on this) and that this will very likely have a bearing on risk assessments and how insurers work out their premiums.

  4. Avatar Say what

    The cab outside my house was damaged a year ago and it is still in the same state to this day. If I am honest I find it incredibly dangerous as a child can get their hand in there and the damage is to the power side of the cab. Openreach seem disinterested in fixing it even though I have brought it up with them and the local council numerous times.

    • Avatar Fastman

      saywhat who di doyu report It to

      Damage to our network
      It’s important that you let us know if you think that any part of our network (outside the boundary of your property) has the potential to be a danger to the general public. If you notice that it has been damaged, let us know by calling 0800 023 2023, Option 1, Option 1. You can also report unsafe Openreach worksites through this number too.
      This could include the following:
      Damaged underground cables (typically caused by mechanical diggers in built-up areas)
      Loose cables or cables dangling from telephone poles
      Damaged green cabinets and/or open doors on them
      Damaged telephone poles (e.g. poles leaning at awkward angles, or poles that have been completely smashed to the ground)
      Loose, cracked or missing manhole covers.

    • Avatar Optimist

      Perhaps the telecoms companies might emulate the electricity suppliers by introducing a standard 3-digit number to report these issues?

    • Avatar occasionally factual

      @Optimist
      Given some people’s view of Openreach/BT, can I suggest the use of 666 ?

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