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Homes in Welsh Hamlet Left Cut-off from FTTP Broadband for 8 Weeks

Friday, January 14th, 2022 (3:09 pm) - Score 1,800
The-Nant-Wales

A number of residents in the small rural North Wales hamlet community of The Nant (Y Nant in Welsh), which is in Holywell, have vented anger at Openreach (BT) after their Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) broadband network was left disconnected for 8 weeks following Storm Arwen on 26th November 2021.

Not unlike the recently covered situation in Cartel Fell (here) – and the similar problems in Crook (here) – residents in The Nant had only recently finished celebrating the arrival of Openreach’s new full fibre broadband network, before Storm Arwen took it offline again.

According to local resident Nick Openshaw, a tree fell through the overhead fibre (telegraph poles) and knocked out the service for a number of local premises. “We were told someone would be out in a few days to fix it. We did see an engineer and were told they could not fix it. We have then been given a series of dates for a fix and each time a different excuse for it not happening. Excuses include, road closure with council, need to order cable, weakness of telegraph poles, lack of access to a field,” said Nick.

The good news is that Openreach’s engineers have already restored most of the local services, and they aim to get the rest online today. Similarly, Nick confirmed to us that the local road had been closed today and seven Openreach vans turned up this morning to begin the work.

An Openreach Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“Our engineers are currently onsite (Friday) and service should be fully restored to the whole community today. Faults were caused by fallen trees that brought down fibre cables feeding the hamlet in the storm. We provided a temporary repair on December 7, which cleared 12 out of 14 recorded faults. Unfortunately we were unable to complete the other two because the damage was in another section of the network. This required a more complex fix involving traffic management measures to install a replacement cable – which meant a longer time to complete.

We’re sorry for the time it has taken but the level of storm damage caused was unprecedented in recent memory, with fault volumes in some parts of the country running into the thousands during the days immediately after the storm. Our engineers have been working throughout and flat out – often in very difficult weather conditions and terrain – to complete repairs with many involving a huge amount of complex civil engineering work and heavy or specialist equipment.”

We should add that any locals connected via ISPs that support Ofcom’s automatic compensation system (here) should now be in line for quite a nice payout, which might help to soften the blow. Under this scheme, supporting ISPs must pay out £8.06 per day for delayed repairs, which in this kind of lengthy outage could add up to hundreds of pounds.

Nevertheless, communities should ideally never be left disconnected for this length of time. The risk is that, with the impact of climate change, such storms may become increasingly common and even more severe in the future. Adapting to that could potentially become an increasingly expensive challenge for network operators.

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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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12 Responses
  1. Neil says:

    > Adapting to that could potentially become an increasingly expensive challenge for network operators.

    which will pass it on to wholesale customers, which will pass it on to retail customers, as part of the increased cost of providing the service, one imagines.

    1. Winston Smith says:

      Having the link fibre underground sounds like a good adaption even if the individual customer feeds are overhead.

  2. Gary says:

    Not necessarily the case in this situation but spot damage to overhead fibre is always going to be much more time consuming than old copper lines were. Its one thing gel crimping a twisted copper bundle as a quick fix or spicing in an new section where its been brought down between poles, but no such a quick dirty fix for fibre.

  3. Declan m says:

    £450 in compensation for the 8 week outage I wouldn’t turn it down

    1. Hungry Dog says:

      I wouldn’t be surprised if they claimed a force majeure event…

    2. Damien says:

      Declan -that’s 3 weeks service for me.

      HD@ They would be well within their rights and I think they should.

  4. Sussex Fibre says:

    It’s not unknown for councils to require up to 3 months notice on a road closure so not really the fault of Openreach, sounds like they did all they could do restore service to as many customers as they reasonably could

    1. Ben says:

      Eh — I’m pretty sure councils wouldn’t require 3 months notice for emergency works to reconnect customers to the electrical grid. IMO in this day and age telecoms need to be viewed as an essential utility like electricity and gas.

    2. Damien says:

      Ben, it’s been that way for about 10 years now. Ever since phone boxes were withdrawn

  5. John H says:

    The risk is that, with the impact of climate change, such storms may become increasingly common and even more severe.

    May being the operative word, there is currently no observational data showing any increase in Atlantic storm activity 1878 to 2010.

    http://journals.ametsoc.org/doi/full/10.1175/2009JCLI3034.1

    Only the models show an increase.

    And looking at US landfall hurricanes the trend is slightly downward.

    The evidence for an upward trend is even weaker if we look at U.S. landfalling hurricanes, which even show a slight negative trend beginning from 1900 or from the late 1800s (Figure 3, blue curve). Hurricane landfalling frequency is much less common than basin-wide occurrence, meaning that the U.S. landfalling hurricane record, while more reliable than the basin-wide record, suffers from degraded signal-to-noise characteristics for assessing trends.

    1. Aled says:

      Climate change is a rounding error on Welsh weather and storms. It’s not a new phenomenon, if anything the weather is getting better

    2. Optimist says:

      The climate changes naturally, regardless of increasing CO2. If the government thinks it can control the climate, the British people should be asked in a referendum whether they want the UK’s climate to be warmer or cooler, wetter or drier, stormier or calmer.

      BTW always bear in mind that climate is defined as the average over 3o years, so it wil take quite a while before success or failure can be measured.

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