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Vandals Attack Netomnia’s FTTP Broadband Network in Liverpool UPDATE

Wednesday, Dec 13th, 2023 (11:44 am) - Score 6,360
Netomnia-Sign-and-Engineers-Hands

Police have been called in after vandals caused “extensive” damage to part of Netomnia’s (supported by UK ISP YouFibre) new full fibre broadband network in Liverpool, where the operator is currently investing £39 million on a large deployment project. But thankfully only a few customers have felt the impact.

Just to recap. Netomnia’s new FTTP network currently covers over 730,000 UK premises (9th Nov 2023) – across parts of over 70 towns and cities – and aims to reach 1 million premises across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland by early 2024 (coverage plan – plus additions here, here and here). A minority of their users also come from CityFibre’s network – specifically around the Middlesbrough area (North Yorkshire).

NOTE: Netomnia is supported by funding of £648m from DigitalBridge and other investors.

The operator also sells packages to consumers via the closely linked ISP YouFibre, which has incidentally just grown to top 65,000 active customers (up from 58,000 on 9th November 2023). Unfortunately, a few of those customers (around 200) lost connectivity this week after Netomnia’s new fibre infrastructure in Liverpool was targeted by vandals.

For some reason, YouFibre doesn’t have a Service Status page like most ISPs (*nudge nudge*), which is a somewhat irritating shortcoming for an otherwise good and reputable ISP. But feedback from several customers did reveal that the provider had issued the following statement on the incident, which adds more detail.

YouFibre’s Statement on Network Damage

We have had some feedback from our engineers on site that unfortunately there has been damage done to our network which is the cause of your connection loss.

It saddens us to report that this damage was done intentionally, and is extensive. Engineers on site have reported numerous cables severed in several different places. We are currently also checking the network further to ensure we have discovered the full extent of the damage done.

As you can imagine, the sheer scale of the damage in this location to our network this will likely take a few days to restore all services. However, as the investigation continues we will update you and give a more accurate time scale for resolution.

We have involved the police, and we are deeply sorry for the inconvenience that this is undoubtedly causing. We will do our utmost to get you back up and running as soon as possible, and will keep you updated as often as possible. Please avoid using our live chat and phone channels to seek updates, if you are receiving this email you have been identified as a customer impacted by the malicious damage to our network, and we will contact you via email to provide further updates.

Once again, we’re very sorry and will be in touch soon.

ISPreview understands that the incident occurred on Monday night (one customer suggested it began around 9pm) after vandals broke into one of Netomnia’s chambers in the Sefton Park area and cut all the sub-ducts and cables inside. Netomnia informed us at just before 8am this morning that it could take another 48-72 hours to fully resolve the incident, such is the level of damage involved.

Telecoms infrastructure is protected by strict laws in the UK and the police are understood to be investigating the incident. Sadly, the people who commit such acts rarely have any regard for the serious problems they cause, which can in some cases disrupt more than just internet access (e.g. telecare, access to emergency services etc.).

UPDATE 14th Dec 2023 @ 12pm

YouFibre has informed their customers that the damage appears to be much more extensive than first thought. “There are cables that have been vandalised/severed that are accessible only via chambers in the ground. Other cables have been cut along telegraph poles. There is damage at every layer of our network in the area,” said the provider. Due to this, they’re currently having to revise their estimated fix time.

The good news is that the provider have “ensured that any customers impacted by these issues will not pay their next invoice“.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
35 Responses
  1. Avatar photo RandomGeezer says:

    “Vandals” or uneducated members of certain “communities” looking for copper?

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Definitely uneducated if they think there’s any easy to access copper anywhere other than overhead.

      It would probably be a good idea for OR to actually remove the copper at point of connection of the new FTTP, bar exceptional cases where it is too difficult and/of r costly to do so.

    2. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      Openreach intend to extract the copper as soon as they can, one of the reasons they’re putting copper products on stop sell when a particular exchange area has sufficient FTTP coverage. They reckon extracting copper and selling it for scrap is going to quite lucrative for them. Someone told (and I’ve no idea if it’s true) that if they could extract all their old copper and sell it at once it could affect world copper prices.

  2. Avatar photo Alex A says:

    Likely copper thieves.

  3. Avatar photo DaveInColchester says:

    D’ya like dags?

    1. Avatar photo Chris says:

      Brad Pitt stole it?

  4. Avatar photo Andrew says:

    They tend to travel in caravans – looking for copper to steal

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      Running from coppers whilst stealing copper.

    2. Avatar photo Industry insider says:

      They’re justified and they’re ancient, and they drive an ice cream van.

      They’re justified and they’re ancient, with still no master plan.

  5. Avatar photo Craig says:

    The other possibility is a disgruntled employee I guess which is what I jumped to when Netomnia’s own statement didn’t mention copper theft. Would be interested to know if there was any attempt to pull cables out which would point in the direction of copper theft.

    1. Avatar photo Alex A says:

      I’m inclined to agree, their statement says it was cut in multiple places in their own chambers. Copper thieves don’t tend to be increadibly intelligent but they’d realise after one or two of specifically Netomnia chambers that there isn’t any copper. If they were just looking for some to nick then surely BT would have been affected.

    2. Avatar photo Matt says:

      My thought was disgruntled subcontractor / installation team, based on the type of damage. Feels intended to make the recovery awkward.

    3. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Can’t really know, but worth noting that Netomnia is a growth network, so they’re putting more into hires than fires right now. This would tend to make the disgruntled ex-employee idea less plausible.

      You can speculate about competitors, anti-pole campaigners, general vandals, copper thieves etc., but we won’t know unless or until the police make an arrest. In any case, my bet is on Aliens, possibly after they got tired of abducting Americans for anal probes.

  6. Avatar photo Billy says:

    Recently there has been poles chopped down and now this. Idiots

  7. Avatar photo anon says:

    Attacks on our infrastructure by whomever, for whatever reason, should be considered an act of terrorism

    1. Avatar photo Name says:

      Do you even understand what that word means?

    2. Avatar photo 125us says:

      How so? Does breaking someone’s broadband connection render them likely to stop living a normal life or change their daily behaviour out of fear?

    3. Avatar photo GG says:

      When it cuts off a hospital it does.
      When it cuts of monitoring for medical equipment at home it does.
      It also create economic carnage.
      It is every bit terrorism.

    4. Avatar photo Dave says:

      Depending on the motive, it might already be regarded in that way, if it’s an organised group (eg. An anti-5G group who hit the wrong target).

    5. Avatar photo the builder says:

      May be the comment bit is bit over the top but losing access to internet can impact you a lot nowadays. Unless you have an unlimited mobile internet which you can hot spot, your daily life could be seriously impacted. With remote working, remote gp appointment, paying bills online,etc. your daily life could be impacted seriously.

    6. Avatar photo Industry insider says:

      I agree. Attacks on infrastructure are attacks on our national security and way of life.

      The vandals here are probably the same people who think 5g means mind control

  8. Avatar photo FibreBubble says:

    Lets hope them ducts don’t have blockages.

  9. Avatar photo Edward Togher says:

    My money is 100% on a disgruntled ex emplyoyee. Either within the ISP or contractor.
    Unfortunately not a lot can be done to beef up external network security.
    Very easy to open boxes in verge or footways. Locked covers are not financially viable (until something like this happpens)
    Hopefully the culprit will be caught and punished but that is doubtfu. Even if caught the punishment will not be any kind of deterrent. Welcome to UK justice I’m afraid.

    1. Avatar photo K says:

      I am an employee and can confirm it so it the case, it was vandalism.

  10. Avatar photo NE555 says:

    After the Sycamore Gap tree incident, you come to realise that there are people with too many grudges, too much time, and too many power tools on their hands.

    Nutters.

  11. Avatar photo Snip Snip says:

    Makes a change from their subbies doing it to others

  12. Avatar photo Mark says:

    It sounds like an unpaid contractor to me.I would guess it’s not Netomnia who haven’t paid, but one of the layers of subcontractors below.There are always people getting shafted by non payment or late payments, who can’t pay their bills or feed their families.
    I would guess after any serious investigation you will find an unpaid low tier subcontractor who has been unpaid for their services in delivering this network.

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      They’re going to have a job paying their bills or feeding their families from prison if they get caught.

  13. Avatar photo Gabrie says:

    The main problem is there are lots of customers affected (including myself) and it is very frustrating not having internet connection for so many days. Also there is poor communication between Youfiber/Netomnia and their customers. I do understand the police is involved and they need to carry out investigations, however the above companies should act more quickly and sort out the connection asap.

    1. Avatar photo Harry says:

      It takes a long time to deploy a network, given the extent of the damage, it can take many days

      It is not Netomnias job to tackle crime, that is up to your elected council and police department

  14. Avatar photo Dave says:

    It could be conspiracy theory loons. This is in the same area of Liverpool that saw a spate of attacks on 5G equipment. It’s quite possible they’ve seen strange boxes being installed on telegraph poles and arrived at the wrong conclusion

  15. Avatar photo Bob honeysuckle says:

    I would put money on a disgruntled sub contractor who wasn’t paid properly. Too many crooks in this industry now

  16. Avatar photo Dubs says:

    Any update on this?

    1. Avatar photo Mike says:

      Still out today company provided a sim router as an interim measure not sure when work will be completed for full reconnection

  17. Avatar photo Dave says:

    Still down here as of the time of this comment. Weeks of lost income (full time work from home x2 people), no Christmas streaming or new game downloads for the kids.
    But the worst part is the total lack of meaningful updates, time estimate revisions, etc. Genuinely woeful communication. Very disappointing considering how good everything seemed beforehand.

Comments are closed

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