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UPDATE Significant BT New Phone Line Installation Delays Strike UK Business ISPs

Posted: 12th Jan, 2011 By: MarkJ
bt openreach uk broadband telecom vanfluidata uk business ispThe Managing Director (MD) of business ISP Fluidata UK, Piers Daniell, has heavily criticised BT Openreach for the huge delays that now appear to be hampering its ability to install new telephone lines and related broadband connections. Daniell claims that some installs can now take "up to 6-weeks" to fulfil, which is a far cry from the "within 10-days of order" period that use to prevail.

Piers Daniell commented:

"I have been staggered at BT’s inability in the last few months to fulfil orders and the lack of publicity surrounding it. It must be the case that BT’s reputation is so poor that client’s expectations aren’t that high and put up with it."

However the problems are not unique to Fluidata and indeed other ISPs have echoed similar concerns to us. Most of the issues are believed to stem from a simple lack of manpower, which follows last year's staff redundancies. The extremely cold weather of November and December 2010 has also exasperated an already bad situation. Sadly those aren't the only issues.

Daniell added:

"Even when you do get a date I can pretty much bet against the engineer actually turning up and a lengthy process to get the engineer rebooked. BT still manages, however, to invoice the missed appointment fee!

We started seeing issues back in October [2010] which was put down to resources being stretched as redundancies started to hit and the increased workload of 21CN and Fibre to the Cabinet projects meant less engineers were available. Subsequently their ordering system was upgraded and all forecasting, I understand, was removed making it impossible for internal staff to even forecast demand put upon its own engineering team.

This new system is also apparently responsible for a number of orders to randomly disappear further delaying the install process and properly upsetting end users. Even leased line orders are now starting to see similar kinds of delays as the knock-on effects are felt."

As it stands BT did purchase some new Openreach vans at the end December 2010 and Fluidata believes that "new" engineers are also being recruited and trained to deal with the backlog. We have attempted to contact BT about this and are awaiting a reply.

UPDATE 13th January 2011

An official statement has arrived.

A BT Spokeswoman told ISPreview.co.uk:

"Due to recent severe weather conditions and heavy snowfall in many parts of the UK, combined with an unexpected spike in demand for new connections which require a visit by a skilled engineer, limited numbers of customers in localised parts of the UK are experiencing slower lead times for engineering and repair visits. We are confident that we can restore normal service levels by actively re-allocating resources to meet this demand."

Unsurprisingly BT has chosen to blame all of its problems on the recent adverse weather conditions, although the issues were occurring before that hit.

However the operator claimed to have no knowledge of any issues with missed appointments where an engineer still invoiced for the visit even though they never actually turned up.
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