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Nearly 3 Months Without Broadband – Openreach’s Forgotten Pole

Wednesday, January 13th, 2021 (3:21 pm) - Score 10,824

We all know how annoying even a brief loss of home broadband connectivity can be, particularly during the current COVID-19 crisis, but spare a thought for poor Joseph Chesney who lives in a rural area just outside of Endon (Staffordshire Moorlands), he’s been waiting almost 3 months for Openreach to fix a broken fibre optic line.

According to In Your Area (see picture on that article), Joseph lost his broadband connectivity on 2nd November 2020 after a branch fell and ripped the overhead optical fibre line from his house. The associated telegraph pole is currently also leaning to one side and in need of replacement, which is something that his ISP, Aquiss, said “should have been replaced two years ago.” But despite several engineer visits, the problem still has not been fixed.

So far, we have been given four dates for the work to be done but nothing has happened, other than various men coming out to look at the post and tell us that it will have to be replaced before it can be climbed as it is unsafe and was condemned in December 2019. It is rotten and leaning at an angle,” said Joseph.

Apparently, there have been issues with access and the potential need for road closures on a very restricted narrow lane, although by this point Joseph had been told so many different things that it’s hard to know what’s true. Other engineers remarked that the work could be done by a cherry picker, but some later disagreed.

A Spokesperson for Openreach said:

“We are extremely sorry for the delay in replacing this pole. The work requires specialist equipment and engineers and we’re incredibly busy at the moment.

We fully appreciate the disruption this must be causing and will try again to provide a temporary service, as we did before Christmas, which would at least provide broadband until a permanent fix is complete.

We’re doing everything we can to secure a team to replace the pole as soon as possible.”

Approaching three months is an unacceptably long period of time to be leaving somebody without access to a working home broadband line, although mercifully such long waits are extremely rare and it sounds like only a single property has been affected by the outage (this could change if the pole were to fall before it’s replaced).

Meanwhile the current COVID-19 crisis will no doubt have combined with the usual challenges of winter weather to add additional pressures to Openreach’s already stretched resources, but this is really still one issue that should have been resolved much more quickly.

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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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60 Responses
  1. André says:

    Mark, maybe if you asked OR for comment they might realise that the press are starting to take notice and make things happen?
    It’s just the one property, granted, but surely by three months he really should have been bumped up the list?

    1. Martin Pitt - Aquiss says:

      It was actually a handful of properties, however, they fixed the copper phone lines after about a month of no service, by laying them on top of nearby hedges (we await those going down in the spring when farmers start trimming hedges back).

    2. André says:

      Wow, surprised that’s allowed by ‘elfin safety…

    3. Martin Pitt - Aquiss says:

      Honestly André the excuses we have heard about this case has been a bloody joke since November when storms damaged it. It’s only when local press have got involved did we out of the blue get a engineer turn up, unannounced, who has used a local electric pole to get him working. We are now trying to establish up if we will have wayleave concerns over this.

      Joseph has been an absolute saint throughout.

    4. AnotherTim says:

      If the wires on the hedges make it to March, they should be good until September – it is illegal for farmers to cut hedges between 1 March and 31 August.
      However, it may also be illegal to mess about with the wires in that period, as there is a risk of disturbing nesting birds…

    5. Joan Gale says:

      This is almost exactly what happened to us! September 25th our line was bought down by a tree. After complaining nearly every day they finally put up a new telegraph pole on about 24th November! I was promised compensation which is still not forthcoming! They have no competition so they can do what they like!

    6. Alex Newman says:

      We had poles put up in our area after waiting 7 years having copper broadband giving 1.5mb. The poles were installed over a year ago. After two months I questioned what was happening as I’ve been doing over the 7 year period. They give numerous excuses about to far away. My guess is money even though we were advised it was coming nothing. So people with super fibre even if temp down should thank themselves lucky. I now had to go to 4g which isn’t great and costs me nearly double and with having to b keep telephone line as well is very costly.
      Not happy with this so called national roll out when we like others get left behind.

  2. Martin Pitt - Aquiss says:

    Update : We should point out that we have been informed by Openreach that the contractors who were to replace the pole have been given the boot and a new company is being appointed for this area.

    The customers service has been restored 2 days ago via a temp solution, using a nearby electric pole. We are still working with Openreach for a final fix.

  3. Dan Jenkins says:

    Ha – not as uncommcon as you may think. A charity I do work for had an issue with their BT line and in the end it went dead – they were without service for 3 months. In the end OR had to put up new telegraph poles on the other side of the road because they were no longer allowed to use the electricity telegraph poles. Luckily the site wasn’t being used much due to covid restrictions – but the real kick in the teeth? No fiber was hung and so they still have crap speeds due to how far away from things they are.

    1. TheTruth says:

      Did they have fibre before the issue?

    2. Dan Jenkins says:

      Nope but it was a long stretch of cable – probably about 800m to OR’s bunker that you’d have thought they’d have done the job properly and just upgraded that stretch to fiber even if there was a rise in cost to the job because of it – do the job once – now they’ll have to come back at some point to hang fiber.

    3. James says:

      There might not be fibre in the local “bunker” exchange. Sadly, it’s not always available, and theres a lot more involved than just hanging a fibre cable from point A to point B.

    4. TheTruth says:

      @Dan Jenkins

      “just upgraded that stretch to fiber”

      You are joke right? If everyone got upgraded to fibre by have an active fault we would all be creating faults to get it done.

  4. Michael V says:

    About 2 years ago, our council decided the telephone pole was in the wrong place. [The one that’s been there forever!]

    O.R planted a new pole. Waited 7months for them to make the transfer, after multiple dates they only did it after I complained.
    Then all 8 properties suffered with poor Broadband!!!!

    They drag their feet!

    1. TheTruth says:

      they only did it after I complained. Then all 8 properties suffered with poor Broadband”

      Thats what you get for complaining, if the pole has been there forever as you say why complain!!!!!

    2. Michael V says:

      No, think U read it wrong, the new one they put up to replace the old one… They didn’t complete the job.
      There was nothing wrong with the old one.

  5. Paul says:

    A typical case on knowbody wanting to take responsibility for a simple task. If people aren’t forced to do a job because no penalty exists then the general attitude is ‘not my problem mate’

  6. James says:

    If it needs a road closure to replace the pole, then that’s a three month notice to the council for starters! Openreach’s hands are quite often tied by health & safety and noticing requirements. As much as they’d like to sort the problem, they can’t because of red tape outside of Openreach.

    1. STE says:

      By the sounds of it the poll is dangerous so they could do this as emergency works and bypass the notice period

    2. Brian Storey says:

      There are legitimate ways around this but is does require proper management and coordination with all parties involved. Sometimes it just simply boils down to making sure a case has the right level of attention based on circumstances etc.

      In my experience, admittedly a few years out now, there was often little attempt to see if an early start opportunity was there. More often than, Councils were ok with that if they were actually asked!

    3. Matthew says:

      Are you being serious it is 3 month notice to close a small road?

    4. MikeC says:

      @Matthew, he’s not wrong, this was the norm when I worked for an ISP

  7. Andrew Pelling says:

    It will be over 2 months by the time Sky hook me up with broadband (order placed back in Nov and not expected until early March). Sky are not even able to offer FTTC without cancelling the FTTP order.it’s hard to believe that a company as large as sky feel it’s acceptable to leave a customer without broadband for this period of time, especially when it’s essential for working at home. Sky use BT open Reach infrastructure,you’re probably better going with BT because if you’re a sky customer you’ll probably get bumped to the back of a long queue. Advice to anyone changing broadband providers during these times – don’t bother, save you’re time. For the couple of quid you might save, it’s not worth it.

    1. Lesley says:

      I have had the same issue with sky they cannot provide me with BroadBand going on since Novembe

  8. Charles Cadby says:

    Openreach used to be good, but are totally under resourced it would appear. They cut our line and broadband off in early December due to an administrative error on their part and it took 3 and a half weeks to come and reconnect us. They were very sorry, but were not prepared to come and resolve the situation as they should, straight away.

  9. FibreBubble says:

    Article where this was lifted from shows the pole not leaning significantly and mentions wire brought down by vehicle. So could well be low wires problem preventing climbing and new wires being erected.

  10. Caroline gower says:

    I’ve been waiting for a phone line and boardband since mid July 2020 and I’m still waiting, same as they need to replace pole and lines and cut down trees on a public pathway to enable them to do work, and trying to get them all to agree on a date for work to be done is taking forever, they all keep blaming each other for the work not being done!

  11. Global Britain says:

    I blame China and France.

    1. MikeC says:


  12. Hes says:

    Just use 4G…

    1. Dave G says:

      In Endon, more chance of platting fog. Lived there when the nimby’s complained about getting their first and only Orange mast. They still only have partial coverage from that mast… Lovely village, some residents a bit uppity though.

    2. Jack says:

      I have to agree with Dave’s comment, I regularly drive through Endon on the way to and fro’ Leek and the signal on EE is terrible and Three is near non-existent (Dual SIM phone). Theres so many NIMBY’s in Endon they even have a Facebook group dedicated to stopping a mast errection; https://www.facebook.com/ReSiteEndonPhoneMast/

    3. Jack says:

      Just to further add.. The toxicity of Endon’s community shows when theres around 200 comments objecting to the installation of one of those slim streetlamp type phone masts. 4G definitely won’t be Mr Chesney’s option…


    4. chris says:

      That pile of shit on a good day my town gets 7mb on 4g and that on vodaphone ee and O2 tried them all all crap speeeds

  13. G Suresh says:

    this is nothing comapired to on B4442 on little chalfont, Buckinghamshire(51.649603, -0.557527). fibercable has been damaged by a falling tree in early summer2020. still hasn’t fixed.

  14. Mark says:

    My story is worse than this one , We lost service feb 2020 due to UG cable fault it was restored end of March by putting a temporary cable across my drive the engineer said we will be putting the pole up next week (1st week of April). The cable is still there I have complained numerous times about this dangerous cable and they have given me the option of removing it and cutting off service to me and my neighbors . Or stop bothering them and wait as its with there contractor so they don’t know when they are going to do it . So thats basically 6 weeks without service and 10 months with a trip hazard across my drive and the highest level of complaint you can seem to raise is on tere twitter team. Vodafone my ISP have also had no luck escalating this. If anyone knows a high level complaint dept within Openreach could you let me know please as there seem to be untouchable.

    1. Boohoo says:

      clive.selley@openreach.co.uk go straight to the top for matters of safety. Raise as a Director level complaint. Take a couple of photos and attach to email say you will go to local press.

      Covid may be affecting contractor staffing levels in your area but they should pull them away for build as safety before profit.

  15. F4AMM says:

    This is of no surprise to me, the same thing happened in 2015 and took about the same amount of time, again it happened in 2020 and after some pressure from local groups and the MP it took OR 8 weeks to repair and replace.
    This is the whole reason I started looking at alternative solutions and move away from OR. Rural connectivity is rubbish at best and when you don’t have even that, life in the country can become quite a challenge in this new working from home situation we find ourselves in.
    Don’t even get me started on 4G as an alternative.

  16. Optimist says:

    Roll on Starlink, OneWeb etc. BTOR will lose customers in droves.

    1. Mark says:

      Not convinced they realise they have customers that’s the problem otherwise they would have the dreaded customer service dept not a few guys on Twitter that probably don’t even work for OR.

  17. Chiny says:

    Hmm, I’ve been with Virgin Media (and its predecessors) for 30 years with almost zero outages. OR have now put FTTP up the road, so I’m contemplating shifting to OR for an ISP with more frills (IPv6, static IPv4 etc).

    Pre-COVID, I do recall seeing bit fat BT cables just lying along the A4 near here, before disappearing through a road plate into the ground – not impressive.

    It sounds like OR are a bad idea, unable to keep any service going. Or is it just those with a problem make more noise than the happily content ?

    1. Mark says:

      The problem is you are not getting your broadband from OR , so you are not there customer your ISP is. When I spoke to OFCOM they recommended changing from Vodafone to BT as they are more likely to be able to resolve a problem with OR. That response from OFCOM shocked me and I think its very wrong.

    2. John says:

      OFCOM told you nothing of the sort.

      BT isn’t even a customer of OpenReach.
      BT buy from BT Wholesale who in turn but from OpenReach.

      BT are about the slowest ISP I’ve used for fixing faults

      Just from a few posts on this article you clearly have a grudge with OpenReach.
      No need to make shit up to support that grudge.

    3. GNewton says:

      No need to post half-truths here. The network assets would still be owned by BT plc, and Openreach Limited still is wholly owned by BT plc’s parent holding company, BT Group plc.

  18. GaryW says:

    This sort of issue highlights one of the issues with fixed line broadband versus 4G/5G broadband. If my local 4G mast fails, it affects a lot of people and is usually fixed within a matter of hours…and in the interim I can fail over to another mast that still gives useable broadband. If a fixed line fails, and you’re the only person affected, it’s a low priority….

    So while I’m looking forward to FTTP being installed in my village and will probably sign up, I’m also glad that I have 4G to fall back on.

  19. Dave says:

    This happened to me for about 6 weeks – pole was knocked over, a new one erected a month or so later, then a couple of weeks to connect everything back up. Had to battle for a refund from my ISP and spend 30/40 quid on additional mobile data to use in the meantime.

  20. Mark says:

    John , I do not apricated being called a liar , OFCOM did tell me I would be better switching to BT.OR are wholly owned subsidiary of BT Group and a legally separate business. So you could say BT are closer to OR than most ISPs as they own them.

    Obviously you think it is acceptable for OR to have run a cable up my hedge and across my drive and not try to rectify it within 10 months ? Would you be happy with that John ? If you happen to work for OR I’m quite happy for you to contact me directly so you can look into the saga if you like or you could tweet your twitter gang and they could fill you in.

    1. Fastman says:


      Ofcom will not have said that in any circumstance it would be against Openreach condition of licence and would be anti competive – im sure the CEO of Openreach would welome being informed who advised you that in ofcom so they can challenge that

    2. GNewton says:

      @Fastman: Your defence of Ofcom or Openreach is admirable but totally inappropriate in view of these real-world experiences posted by users here. It is obvious you work for telecoms or have a connection with them, so why not post some practical suggestions on how to resolve user’s problems here?

  21. Mark says:

    I’m telling you OFCOM did say that , I may well have been a badly trained advisor but he did say that. I would love to talk to the CEO of OR and discuss there woeful attitude to the users of the network and there terrible attitude to Heath and safety. I don’t have a grudge against OR as in my interpretation of the word the problem would have to be resolved before it could be called a grudge. Any suggestions on how to contact the CEO?

  22. Mark says:

    Also if you look at the forum my post from September with a bad picture showing the cable is in general discussions with the title openreach cable if people think I’m making that up to.

  23. Hope this helps says:

    A customer service affecting fault in the Openreach network, allows roads to be closed for free and within days, under an urgent permit, which gets round the standard major permit route which entails upto a 3 month wait, and the costs of approx £3000.

    OR have to pay for a TM company to sign the closure, along with diversionary signs advising motorists of the new route.

    All workers for OR are classified as key workers so, their contractors are all out and carrying on as normal as possible but staff numbers are dependent on Covid tests etc.

    I’m a contractor (PM) to OR and deal with these type of problem’s on a regular basis, so don’t let them fob you off. I’m shocked that you have been offline for so long.

    1. MartinConf says:

      @Hope this helps

      What does TM stand for?

  24. Hope this helps says:

    Traffic Management (TM).

    1. Mark says:

      It would be nice to in a position to be fobbed off you I can’t contact them or raise a complaint . Might get back on Twitter again tomorrow. You can also look on one network to see if road closures or notices have been put in . I do work in telecoms so I also know that these things do take time and I have given them plenty of slack it’s been 10 months so I think I’m within my rights to be a bit angry.

  25. The Real Facts says:

    BT disconnected my BT Business line for no apparent reason early in November 2020.
    The BT/Openreach guy fixed it quickly, but the speed dropped from 5Mbit to 2.5Mbit.
    My other line gives me 5.4Mbit (same house, socket is about 1 foot apart), and my neighbours get 4.7Mbit.
    BT says as it is within their acceptable range limit of over 1Mbit they wont fix it.
    I know it isnt as bad as having no service, but this is shocking. I didnt ask for
    them to break my already very poor BT Business broadband line!

    1. Jon says:

      If the cable was somehow damaged externally to the point that there was no continuity on any wires (or they were shorting out), they’d have to replace it for you, right? The tricky part is how that might happen without it being customer damage.

      We once had a fault with the broadband that only happened when it rained. We cancelled engineer call-outs twice because it was fine the next day, and it took us about 4 times to realise it was rain-related. When we finally went through with the engineer visit (amid the usual “if it’s your equipment at fault and not the line then there’s a charge of £120”) he worked out that in the plastic capping the cable ran through up the house from the floor, someone had screwed the capping onto the wall – through the cable.

      I’ve also had an engineer up a ladder working on a pole in the snow to repair a cable that turns out to have been nicked (the copper itself, where the jacket was stripped off) when it was originally installed in 1964, and had eventually fractured failed in 2018 I think it was.

      So not all OR guys are terrible, but I do think their business processes leave an awful lot to be desired.

      I guess your issues might be that the reconnected cable routes through a different set of cabinets to the first/previous cable, for whatever reason, and the line is longer. Have you checked on the BTW ADSL checker, against both of your line numbers?

      If you’re prepared to gamble the call-out charge, you could report a fault (unplug the router so it’s not in sync) and insist on an engineer visit. When the guy turns up explain the situation and he MAY be able to help and fix it free of charge – or he MAY shrug and mark the job as no fault find, charge the customer. Or you could put that money into a 4G service for 6 months, depends on your needs.

      Hope that helps?

  26. Jon says:

    We had a client wait 13 months for a simple analogue line and broadband install. In that time at least 12 OR engineers turned up, announced they couldn’t provide the line because there “no incoming cable to the building, not my department” which then turned into “cant climb poles, I’m not trained/not my department”, and then “can’t climb this pole because it’s rotten.” Rinse and repeat x4. Meanwhile they were running on 3G because 4G didn’t reach them at the time – ok online life was a little simpler in 2012 but it was still as frustrating as sitting in traffic when you’re already late for the traffic-management lecture you’re supposed to be giving right now.

    You would think that after a job is outstanding for more than 30 days, it would escalate to someone who goes “right, what is needed to complete this job, how do we get it done?” – as a small business owner I’d have no customers left if we ignored people for 30 days at a time and then sent 12 engineers to not complete a job… But apparently not – I guess that’s the benefit of being the only supplier.

    Mind you, I tend to think that 90 working days expected lead time – not even any guarantees it could be many more – for fibre Ethernet, given how much they charge for that service, is disgusting BUT I’ve never tried running a fibre optic installation company so I’m prepared to accept I really don’t know exactly how much work is involved in something like that, so I guess we’re going to be waiting 90 days before we can start shouting at our (business only) ISP. Ho-hum, good job they’re a financially sound entity with no pension pot deficits or anything… :-/

  27. Sam says:

    I feel his pain. We’ve been waiting since 24 September, and have been told we’ll have to wait till 7 May (MAY!) earliest.

  28. Claire says:

    I ordered and paid for Broadband in December 2020 for my elderly Dad who lives on a farm and is missing his family during lockdown. We have had 6 scheduled Open Reach appointments and nothing has happened. He has bought a tablet that he can’t use, and we have had no substantive explanation. Reading between the lines from the random snippets we are given, it sounds like they need to dig up the road but each engineer it is allocated to doesn’t want to either do it, or make that decision, so they just pass it on. I have emailed Clive Selley today and am really hoping that something will be sorted for my Dad soon. The number of stories on here have really shocked me, I never realised BT OR had such a cowboy attitude with their customers.

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