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ISPs Suffer Major Hampshire Broadband Outage After Fibre Break UPDATE4

Thursday, June 9th, 2022 (8:56 am) - Score 7,320
Hampshire-Openreach-Cable-Break

Customers of UK ISP Giganet in Hampshire, particularly those connecting through their Point of Presence (PoP) in the Winchester Exchange, are among those suffering from a major outage after “significant damage” was caused to one of Openreach’s main fibre spine cables by a “large excavation team” in Basingstoke.

The incident appears to have happened at around 3:51pm yesterday afternoon and even managed to knock out some of Giganet’s leased line customers. Sadly, third-party contractors working on separate projects do occasionally – through either their own fault or other reasons (e.g. inaccurate maps of underground infrastructure) – end up breaking optical fibres on a major spine route.

Sometimes such damage can be resolved within the space of a few short hours, but on other occasions it could be so complex as to require days or even weeks of work. In this case, Openreach have, for safety reasons, had to wait until morning before they could dig because the work to repair the cable will require a significant excavation to reach the ducting.

Giganet’s Service Status Update – 7:05am

Our network partner are currently waiting for onsite workers to begin digging out the site to expose the damaged ducts.

Unfortunately, due to the amount of damage and the size of the hole required to expose the ducting it was too dangerous to dig overnight. However, our partner’s engineering team remain on site, and have a jointing team on standby to start pulling in the new cables once the ducts have been repaired.

Due to the amount of damage to this major spine route we are currently unable to provide an estimated restoration time.

Hopefully there will be a more positive update to come later today.

UPDATE 2:27pm

Openreach (BT) has confirmed that the cable is theirs and the outage, which is impacting multiple providers, is known to be effecting around 4,000 premises. The problem appears to have occurred as a result of roadworks at the Brighton Hill roundabout.

Openreach Statement

Our network in the Dummer area of Hampshire was accidentally damaged by a third party working on a building site on Wednesday evening, affecting phone and broadband services for around 4,000 homes, businesses and other organisations. Engineers are on site working hard to resolve the situation, but it is a complex fix and may some time to completely recover.

We know how frustrating this must be for those affected and we’ll be doing what we can to prioritise fixes for vulnerable customers and key local services. We’ll also do our best to provide temporary connections wherever possible while this challenging repair work is completed. We’d ask that anyone experiencing any disruption to report it to their service provider who will then inform us.

A team from Thames Water are currently on-site and excavating to reveal the damaged ducts and cables. The latest update from Giganet (2:05pm) states: “We still have our own Civils team on site waiting to complete the necessary duct repairs as soon as Thames Water have finished their works, and have the necessary Openreach cabling and jointing teams on standby too for when they can attend and start their repair tasks.”

Giganet are also still working to re-route traffic for leased line customers, which they are hoping will provide a faster resolution than repairing the cables. Meanwhile, we’ve added a picture above that shows the damage, which appears to depict the cable being heavily wrapped around a large drill bit. This will not be an easy fix.

UPDATE 5:05pm

The latest update from Giganet has some positive news, at least for their leased line customers: “We have successfully re-routed all of our Elite and Ultrabeam services that have been impacted by this outage.”

As a side note, the damage has also impacted some core copper cables and fibres for other operators in the same duct (Giganet seems to be one of those).

UPDATE 10th June 2022 @ 8:40am

Some feedback from local operators suggests that engineers have just started resplicing the fibres on the new cable(s), which has enabled some customers to reconnect. The work is ongoing.

UPDATE 10th June 2022 @ 10:37am

Openreach has just issued this update: “A team of twenty specialist engineers worked through the night and have repaired the main NHS circuit; as a result the Royal Hampshire County Hospital and Andover War Memorial Hospital are now back online along with thousands of homes and businesses. We still have a lot of work to do but will continue onsite until everyone is back up and running.”

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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.
Leave a Comment
27 Responses
  1. simon says:

    Unfortunate but often happens – at least the Leased Line customers will be sorted out first and rightly so.

    1. MrTruth says:

      Really? why would that be?

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      I think the OP is reflecting that Giganet appeared to be suggesting as much by making specific reference to the redirection of traffic for leased line users.

    3. 125us says:

      Presumably because those leased line customers are paying for an SLA that promises reasonably rapid repair. Broadband customers typically don’t.

    4. simon says:

      @125US – yes thank you that’s what I was trying to say but you said it better 🙂

      4-5 hours SLA average across the board – in return for a few hundred quid a month.

    5. simon says:

      Yes sorry Mark I missed that comment about the re routing. I have not had any outages in the year and a half I’ve had mine – but as I understand it I have 3 routes to my provider – It never occurred to me that a re route could be done to satisfy the SLA..

      Thanks for the clarification.

    6. Well Well says:

      @Simon

      I would put money on the fact that you also post as Anon 🙂

  2. Barney says:

    Looks like an Openreach issue in Basingstoke – I hear by the Brighton Hill roundabout… https://www.basingstokegazette.co.uk/news/20197319.internet-phone-lines-many-parts-basingstoke/

    1. An Engineer says:

      Think one guy in that comments section on that article is on the brink of demanding the death penalty for the contractors that cut the cable.

      One of the comments on there complains about lack of resiliency between the Dummer exchange and Basingstoke. There will of course be resiliency but not on broadband and not on leased lines unless the resiliency option was paid for.

      On both in between your property and the exchange the service terminates, which may well not be your local exchange, there’s a nice, long single point of failure.

  3. Mark says:

    I’ve seen a photograph (un verifed source) of a pile driver ‘drill bit’ with multiple fibres and cables wrapped round the end. Whatever, there’s a huge mess (It’s a result of major works rebuilding a major roundabout in Basingstoke (The Brighton Hill Roundabout)

    1. Anecdote says:

      Would love to see that, fancy sharing..?

    2. Mark Jackson says:

      See above.. it’s nasty.

    3. Nick Roberts says:

      Cables are wrapped around a long Auger bit, used for boring out piling cylinders in the ground. these cylinders are later filled with steel reInforcement and acs as foundation stablisers.

  4. Jason says:

    Imagine signing up a load of customers saying fancy a new network? Fed up of Openreach….. then join us and then having to tell your customers that an Openreach fibre has been damaged which is running their network and will be fixed as soon as possible. Comical

    1. An Engineer says:

      Imagine conflating Openreach’s consumer access products with their backhaul products. Comical.

    2. An Engineer says:

      I missed this out. Note this from the updated story:

      ‘The latest update from Giganet (2:05pm) states: “We still have our own Civils team on site waiting to complete the necessary duct repairs as soon as Thames Water have finished their works’

      Sounds like Giganet had their own subduct inside Openreach duct. Even more of a differentiation between their products and the Openreach products, unless there’s something special about Openreach duct that makes fibre cables inside subducts behave differently.

    3. simon says:

      Imagine whatever ISP you choose for a leased line (even VM and TT) – Openreach do everything end to end.. Comical..

      Openreach are in everything Jason – EVERYTHING!

    4. An Engineer says:

      Most business premises have options that don’t involve Openreach at all. Combine VM and CityFibre alone, ignoring others that operate in major urban areas, and you’ve definitely covered over half the country’s homes and businesses on-net.

      As far as backhaul goes Openreach makes sense to get between Openreach exchanges. There are better options for many other use cases. Zayo, Lumen and Neos come to mind.

  5. Eng says:

    For anyone who’s interested the cables were all in ducts (at least 12 ducts) which have also been destroyed, the original depth of these ducts was over 3.5m so they were fairly well ‘protected’. They were damaged very close to a manhole hence the depth. Difficult work due to the amount of material that has to be removed to safely access. Most of the digging is done so cabling should hopefully start shortly

    1. An Engineer says:

      Not a surprise. That drill looks like a similar bit of kit to the one in New Malden that was being used to drill foundations and wiped out a bunch of Virgin Media fibre.

      I imagine that as VM had to do Openreach will be having to replace a fair amount of cable either side of the damage and splice the new length of cable into the pre-existing stuff that is unscathed.

      Grim, and I don’t envy the thankless task facing the engineers working onsite. They are legends.

  6. Frank says:

    They are all legends. Some folk on here simply don’t have a clue.

    1. Tim Robinson says:

      Indeed. Hats off to Openreach who responded very quickly. It’s a horrible mess and will take a lot of work to repair. As someone who has done fibre splicing I wish them well and would happily buy them all beer.

  7. TFabes says:

    Interesting that Steventon/North Waltham fibre connections are all out, nominally on the Dummer exchange, but the few (only?) copper voice subscriber I know is still happily working (no broadband). Does that mean the Dummer exchange building itself no longer terminates the FTTP voice connections? Not an engineer so no idea how the actual terminating in a VOIP world go.

    1. An Engineer says:

      As far as I know Dummer exchange has never terminated FTTP, it went to Basingstoke.

      If that’s the case the fibre cut took out the fibre between cabinets and homes in Dummer and their termination at Basingstoke, and for those on some ADSL and FTTC services it will have taken out both their broadband and voice.

      Anything digital voice is probably toast. Sky, TalkTalk, etc, voice services might be totally down due to loss of fibre between their equipment in the Dummer exchange and Basingstoke. Plain old phone services from BT, Plusnet, etc, using the Openreach WLR service will be okay. Old school broadband from BT, etc should be okay.

      There is actually resilient fibre from Dummer, but it costs money to use it and isn’t worth the extra expense for most operators and end users and as mentioned most services terminate at Basingstoke and are single homed, no resilience at all.

  8. Chris says:

    It’s amazing how accurate those drill bits are at finding hidden cables and pipes.

    At 3.5m I wonder if a ground penetrating radar scan would have revealed the ducts?

    I assume they would have done some surveys if they where drilling that close to a man hole, but…………

  9. Damian Jones says:

    GPR – possibly if there is no reinforced concrete in the way and the correct frequency is used and over a large enough area (as it picks up disturbed ground not the actual infrastructure itself but I suspect all of these would have been shown on a simple up to date utility service search for less then 200£…

    I believe it’s the responsibility of the Client under CDM regs to provide the contractor with up to date service plans, but it’s also the responsibility of the contractor not to proceed without them for simple health and safety as if it had been electric someone could have been electrocuted.

    Either way there will be a big bill for all this work and the utility provider will go after who ever was a fault I guess

  10. Local Resident says:

    This evening (Monday 13th) there was still a row of 9 Openreach vans parked along the Winchester Road approach to the Brighton Hill Roundabout, with some more in the adjacent carpark. Apparently, there had been many more during the day.

    I see that HCC has updated their status:
    https://www.hants.gov.uk/transport/transportschemes/A30brightonhillroundabout

    “Openreach have informed us that repairs to their fibre cables should be complete by this evening (Monday 13 June), and should mean that broadband services will have been restored for most people. Their copper network is taking longer to repair, however.”

    While this repair work is ongoing, the roadworks on this section of Winchester Road have stopped, with excavators etc standing idle.

    I guess both parties will be very motivated to blame the other.

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