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Thunderstorms Leave Trail of UK Broadband Connectivity Woes UPDATE2

Wednesday, August 12th, 2020 (1:55 pm) - Score 5,254

As the heatwave starts to breakdown we’ve begun to see a growing number of “severe” thunderstorms strike across the UK, some of which have already caused damage to telecoms infrastructure. At present the worst incident has occurred in Edinburgh after a telephone exchange was flooded, but more storms are forecast.

At the time of writing some of the worst hit areas seem to be around Fife, Falkirk and Edinburgh in Scotland, which are most likely related to the flooding of a telephone exchange in Livingston (25 miles outside Edinburgh) that has hit multiple ISPs on BT’s (Openreach) national network (e.g. BT, Plusnet, TalkTalk, Sky Broadband etc.).

However, the storms are also affecting other parts of the United Kingdom and with more on the way this afternoon, as well as tomorrow, then we can probably expect further disruption. A spokesperson for industry regulator Ofcom said: “We are aware that BT is experiencing problems with its broadband network in the Edinburgh area, following severe storms overnight. We are in contact with the company to establish the cause of the problem and ensure customers can access services as soon as possible.”

Sample of Service Status Quotes from ISPs

“We’re aware that some customers connected to the Falkirk exchange are currently experiencing a loss of service. Last night’s storm has caused major disruption in the area including flooding at the exchange. Customers with all service providers are impacted by the damage. We’ll keep you updated right here, so please keep checking back for further information”

“Due to recent weather conditions, and in particular the thunderstorms, we are aware of problems affecting parts of the UK which may be causing problems with your telephone service and connecting to the internet. We are working to fix this as soon as possible but if you are aware of a recent thunderstorm in your local area, a restart of your router may resolve your issue.”

“We’re aware of a broadband issue that is affecting customers in parts of West Edinburgh following severe storms and flooding in parts of Edinburgh last night. Engineers are working to restore broadband service as soon as possible. We’re really sorry for any inconvenience caused.”

We will keep this article updated if any other major incidents occur, beyond more localised problems. Take note that it’s often wise to disconnect and switch-off computers and routers during thunderstorms, lest a nearby lightning strike on electricity or telecoms lines does the job for you, albeit in a more damaging way.

UPDATE 4:47pm

We are hearing that Openreach may declare a status of Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control (MBORC) across several regions from midnight tonight, which will see the operator re-focus their resources toward repairs (new service provisions may thus be delayed and their usual fix times won’t apply).

Potential MBORC Areas

Lancashire and Mersey
North and Mid Wales
Swansea and West Wales
Devon and Cornwall

UPDATE 14th August 2020

The latest update from Openreach shows that the following areas are now in MBORC.

Active MBORC Areas

East & North Scotland

Leave a Comment
23 Responses
  1. Avatar Stephen says:

    I live in Aberdeenshire, me & a few neighbours had our routers frazzled after continuous lightning strikes this morning. Mother Nature does love a copper phone line. It’s there fastest thing that’s traveled along those lines!!!

    1. Avatar Jay says:


      Sorry to hear about what is happening and hope services are restored quickly.

      “…fastest thing that has travelled along these lines..”

      Made me spit my drink out – Thanks

    2. Avatar Gary says:

      Aye it does, weve lost two routers over the years due to lightning the last one also requiring Openreach in to replace the frazzled Master socket.

      I’m up in rural Moray lots of overhead lines across farmland and our place is ‘fortunately’ the high point. We started physically disconnecting during localised lightning at that point.

    3. Avatar Rahul says:

      That’s why you need to connect your router to a surge protection extension lead! This includes your TV as well. If thunderstorm lightning hits your TV Ariel/Dish for example then it won’t damage your TV. And the same goes with your router.

      For the peace of mind, it is worth buying a surge protected extension and then connecting that to your router, instead of just plugging the router into the mains socket, plug the surge protector into the mains and then the router to the surge extension. This gives added peace of mind and also less likely to damage your router in case there is huge current entering it.

    4. Avatar Timeless says:

      actually you are incorrect, surge protectors do protect against “power surges” but lightning is a different beast all together, granted one maybe lucky but if the storm is close no surge protector could protect equipment because compared to normal power surges a lightning strike is very different from a controlled circumstance because power lines deliver a controlled flow which can fluctuate which is what surge protectors are designed to protect against, whereas lightning is an uncontrolled force of nature which such equipment isnt designed to handle which cause more than just a surge.

      a good example of that would be the year an unexpected storm took out my line, l was lucky because l was online at the time and wired rather than wireless, not only did my phone socket blow clean off the wall but l had extended the line to my room where my modem was amd it also blew a connector luckily not reaching my modem or my computer hardware where parts of the line had blown were literally melted and black both at the wall and the connectors in the line to my room and l should note that my filter was surge protected yet there was still enough juice to melt connectors.. l was lucky.

      these days l use wireless to rule out such issues.

    5. Avatar Rahul says:

      @Timeless, ok that’s really bad luck in your case. I’ve just googled Do surge protectors really do anything?
      “Surge protectors will indeed protect computers and other electronic devices from power surges and most distant lightning strikes, but they can’t prevent a direct lighting strike from causing damage to connected devices.” 28 Apr 2020

      So that means the risk is there, but the probability should be really small of a direct hit. I even did a google search a couple of years ago on the chances of lightning hitting a human is 1 in 1,222,000.

      So let’s say you’ve got a TV Ariel or Dish, the probability of the lightning landing exactly on the dish or the electricity/telecom line is actually very small. It is actually less likely than getting a golf hole in a one shot. But still I guess for the peace of mind it is still better to turn the TV and router power off.

      Btw, since your master phone socket blew off, did Openreach come and replace it?

    6. Avatar Timeless says:

      this was going back many years when that happened, but yes Openreach did come out and replace the socket though if memory serves it took a week. anything further than my socket l had to fix, l was pretty lucky as it also blew out a connector further than my phone socket before it got to my modem/router and computer.

  2. Avatar Peter says:

    I’m on IDNet here in Gorebridge south of Edinburgh and I’ve been off since early morning and the ISP cant see my router at all. Still waiting on reconnection as they believe that its tied to the edinburgh exchange issues.

    IDNet are reporting the following:

    1. Avatar Declan M says:

      I live in Pathhead (Ford) exchange not had any problems but I am with Vodafone on BT’s wholesale network

  3. Avatar Lister says:

    Expecting storms in the south tonight, so guess we’re next. Mind you the garden is dead so bring it on 🙂

  4. Avatar craski says:

    I had three VDSL lines in Aberdeenshire drop sync at 1630ish today and all are still offline (voice is fine). No lightening to speak of since much earlier in the day so I’m now wondering if that is is also related to the outages further south.

  5. Avatar Ben says:

    Is there a danger it could affect my 4G? Does the lightning strike at 2100Mhz?

    1. Avatar Jude says:

      My 4g is down in Gloucestershire. Lightning hit nearly and its been off since.

    2. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Lightning produces a significant burst of EM interference, so any disruption will probably be short lived unless it does damage to the distributing mobile infrastructure.

    3. Avatar Jude says:

      4g and mobile Internet now been down for 16 hours in Gloucestershire.

    4. Avatar Timeless says:


      while l cant speak for the technical side of things l do take an interest in weather, specifically thunderstorms (had too many bad experiences in the past loosing electronics), however from certain weather forums l follow l gather glouster was hit pretty hard last night, not so much my lightning but the wind that often comes with such severe storms and l gather there was some significant damage in places from a short lived tornado, though l am basing my information off some of the information l caught on twitter.

    5. Avatar Jude says:

      @timeless: everything was fine until a huge bolt of lightning hit in the same field where the mobile mast is in. Seconds later phone showed no service and I rang EE and told them and it came back on at about 7pm. Almost 17 hours with no phone service. Had to rely on my shoddy adsl2+ line instead of just switching to mobile data like I do if I don’t need to download files.

  6. Avatar Rauy Woodward says:

    Anyone with any sense should of course disconnect the equipment when a storm kicks off ,,

    1. Avatar joe says:

      No really. My area had forecasts for strikes for 4 days. Ppl can’t turn them off for that long…

    2. Avatar Timeless says:

      this is why l like my lightning radarr app, if l see them coming my way l turn off.. granted l leave my router/modem on until they get somewhat closer but in respects to other equipment if there is a warning l’ll disconnect the most important stuff as routers/modems are generally cheap enough to replace quickly but a whole computer/tv/console etc much more pricy..

  7. Avatar Rob says:

    Cabinet 38 in Stafford has been down since 7:50am on the 12th – Was supposed to be sorted within 48 hours but still ongoing.

    The electrical storm finished at 12:20am on the 12th with the internet returning and working until the 7:50am. All thats been provided is lies about the status and issue would be good if OfCom force transparency

  8. Avatar Haggis says:

    Well you would be wrong Rahul, My building got struck by the lighting in Edinburgh. Which sent a surge down the Antenna into the Cable and into my TV. As it was via the ariel my Surge protector Extension lead could not do anything to help as it was not from the Electric or fuse box. I lost A 1 year old 49 Inch TV that was amazing. I got a new 50 inch today and discovered my PS4 Pro was also fried as it was connected to the TV. Saying that my Sound system survived somehow but my broadband router was fried due to the storm. Related but separate issue. Don’t believe everything you read in Google or the net. This storm is going to return aswell. I suggest un plugging all electronics + cables. That’s the only sure way to save devices. Only cost me £1000 so far

  9. Avatar Norma Johnston says:

    I have a landline with Now tv. The phone had not worked since the storms 2 weeks past Tuesday. I am in Burntisland Fife. I have tried my friends phone plugged in but still no dialling tone.Sounds like it is ringing when calling from mobile. Now tv are hard to contact not sure what to do now.

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