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Fibre Break Disrupts Broadband ISP Connectivity Near Southampton UPDATE6

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018 (8:30 am) - Score 4,183
telecoms engineer street works at night

Customers of Sky Broadband, TalkTalk and associated ISPs around the Southampton region (Hampshire, UK) may be experiencing problems getting online or making phone calls this morning after roadworks accidentally damaged a major core fibre optic cable in the area.

The incident is believed to have started at around midnight and is primarily affecting the Portsmouth and surrounding areas near Southampton. Services in some areas, such as those connected to the Cosham exchange, were reconnected earlier this morning but many others have yet to be resolved and some support agents have advised that certain areas might take up to 48 hours to fix.

Aside from Portsmouth the problems are also being felt in nearby Emsworth, Hayling Island, Horndean, Petersfield, Havant and Gosport.

TalkTalk Statement

“We’re aware that some customers in the Southampton region are currently experiencing a loss of Broadband, Phone and TV service. Engineers have identified damaged fibre cabling caused by roadworks. Engineers are currently onsite continuing their investigations and repairs to restore service to the affected customers.”

Sky Statement:

“We understand from our on site engineers that the problem has been caused by a fibre-cable break. Repair work is underway and we’ll provide an update on progress later this morning. We’re sorry for the inconvenience.”

We expect that the complaint volumes will pick-up again this morning as people wake up to find that they still can’t get online. Unfortunately splicing lots of broken fibres and re-making the cable ducts is quite a slow, laborious process that can’t easily be rushed.

UPDATE 10:06am

The broken cable has been identified as being one that runs alongside the A27 but otherwise there’s nothing new to add.

UPDATE 1pm

Apparently an engineering team will close the road at 2pm in order to carry out repairs. On top of that they will also attempt to connect an alternative fibre cable, which should enable them to restore service until the full repair is completed. Sadly there is still no estimated fix time.

UPDATE 5:08pm

The alternative route is now being implemented, which means that connectivity may start returning but will be intermittent until the repairs are completed.

UPDATE 18th July 2018 – 7:03am

A statement posted last night by Sky said: “Unfortunately the alternative solution has been found to be unusable and full restoration works have begun following the implementation of traffic controls.” At around midnight TalkTalk added that the engineers had “estimated the new cables will be connected in the next few hours,” although there have been no further updates since.

UPDATE 18th July – 12:48pm

We understand that the repairs have now completed and services should be working normally again.

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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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15 Responses
  1. Avatar chris conder

    This is why we need total mobile coverage all over the UK, so folk have a secondary link when a network fails.

  2. Avatar Meadmodj

    Network nodes should not be dependant on a single connectivity/duct route. Whilst mobile will be a suitable backup for individual customers with the best will in the world mobile could not take a loss of fixed broadband in a large geographical area. My view is that there should be more transparency of routing so business can select services from two network providers (not ISP). e.g in parts of York you could use Talktalk for you main FTTP service and BT OR as your backup (prioritised use).

    • Avatar Alex Bristol

      I agree, having multiple infrastructure gives resilience. But some many people on here write saying what a bad thing overbuild is, rather than looking at the bigger picture.

    • I’d leave the local access focused overbuild debate out of this when talking about a core fibre break, like the one above. You could still have several FTTH networks linking into the same core fibre route / shared cable duct etc.

    • Avatar Meadmodj

      Sorry if I have confused by the example. Business needs resilience in both distribution network and core connectivity. Hence why my view is that ISPs should provide visibility of there routings for each geographical patch. They can use different providers for the network node connectivity but it shouldn’t be dependent on a single connectivity/duct.

    • Avatar 125us

      If you want resilience to work well use a single supplier and ask them to manage it for you. There is so much outsourcing of network components that you’ll never get it right if you just hope that two suppliers don’t share a common piece of infrastructure by accident or design. I had a customer years ago with dozens of sites in France they thought were resilient because they had service into each from supplier A and supplier B. Supplier B had no last mile and so placed orders for that with supplier A, who had no idea about the separacy requirement.

    • Avatar A_Builder

      There was a very public incident about 10 years ago when Deuschbank in London lost connectivity.

      They did have two fibre connection with well separated entry points to the building but unknown to them they then ran through the same duct a few blocks away.

      Digger through the duct.

      The construction industry does put a lot of effort into avoiding services. However, some ducts are not where they are supposed to be on maps and pure fibre ducts don’t show up with a CAT (Cable Avoidance Tool) as there is nothing metallic or electrical to find.

      Historically some of the installers put either a length of wire rope or chain link in between the two ducts so it would show up. Others put some steel plate over the top of the ducts. Most put nothing.

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

    So is that a Virgin (ntl), Vodafone (CW) or SSE Telecom fibre?

    • Avatar CarlT

      Could also be Openreach fibre – BT Wholesale unaffected as they have resilient connectivity out of exchanges while TalkTalk and Sky have big daisy chains of exchanges with single points of failure throughout.

    • Avatar James Blessing

      One of the problems is that some OR exchanges only have a single chamber and route in/out of them, sometimes (due to less than stellar planning) this has lead to paths from providers that only take a single route into an exchange because there is only a single chamber…

    • Avatar 125us

      If both legs go into the same exchange the service isn’t resilient.

  4. Avatar Titus

    im sick tired of rubbish internet in the UK, our country is far behind many others, you should have a look at this petition https://www.change.org/p/end-frustrating-internet-speeds-lets-fix-it-together

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