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Standard User Bob_s2
(experienced) Tue 12-Nov-13 16:58:01
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Phone Lines Still Down Weeks after Storm

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Villages across Suffolk are still without telephone lines more than a week after high winds hit the county.

Cables were brought down on Monday 28 October and customers lost their landline connections.
we're now being told the lines will be repaired by 18 November - but how can any business run with that incapacity?"
Standard User David_W
(fountain of knowledge) Wed 13-Nov-13 10:31:01
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Re: Phone Lines Still Down.

[re: Bob_s2] [link to this post]
"more than a week" != "weeks"

It sounds like this is a complex set of faults in what look like some small and fairly isolated villages. The amount of damage in some areas of Suffolk was considerable, and whilst I have no idea exactly what the issues are in these villages, I would not be surprised if there is a considerable amount of damage to overhead infrastructure that is not easy to repair.

Loss of phone lines does not represent quite the same safety to life and property issues as loss of electricity supply, not least as it is much easier and cheaper to provide a backup for a phone line than to bring in and power large generators. It's usually possible to divert incoming calls in a fault scenario by calling your supplier. I'd be surprised if any of the businesses mentioned could not receive a service from one of the mobile networks - and if not, they should be able to make arrangements for incoming calls to be handled by a staff member working at home, by a relative or friend who is at home during the day or by a voicemail service.

There is only so much that it is reasonable for Openreach to do, especially as the number of affected customers is likely to be low. Openreach could have much greater resources on standby to repair unusual and widespread damage - but we would all pay for it in increased rental charges.

On the one hand, people are quick to complain at the line rental charges. How often do we hear people say that it's an outrage they have to pay £10-15 per month line rental when they no longer need a landline, only a pair of wires for their broadband?

On the other hand, people are quick to complain at outages and claim how crucial their phone service and broadband are to them - but often seemingly not crucial enough to pay for enhanced fault repair services (not that it would make much difference in this scenario) or have alternative arrangements for an outage. Businesses can insure against business continuity risks - if they do not do so, they take the usual risks of self-insurance.

Standard User zhango
(regular) Wed 13-Nov-13 10:43:06
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Re: Phone Lines Still Down.

[re: David_W] [link to this post]
Some fair points David but this situation does highlight the fact that in the 21st century all cabling should have been underground years ago.
Yes that costs money but surely it's a good investment?

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Standard User David_W
(fountain of knowledge) Wed 13-Nov-13 10:57:24
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Re: Phone Lines Still Down.

[re: zhango] [link to this post]
The electricity companies say that burying a cable run costs around nine times as much as running it overhead - so, again, it's huge extra costs for something that people say they want but aren't prepared to pay for.

In any case, underground metallic cable infrastructure has other failure modes to do with ground heave, people digging it up, flooding, moisture ingress and corrosion.

When Openreach install FTTP, the fibres are going overhead in most areas where the existing metallic cable infrastructure is overhead.

Edited by David_W (Wed 13-Nov-13 10:58:34)

Standard User eckiedoo
(committed) Wed 13-Nov-13 12:25:48
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Re: Phone Lines Still Down.

[re: David_W] [link to this post]
Agreed with your comments on underground cable runs; and if the flooding is from an overloaded sewer...

I recollect an occasion when our factory phone system was knocked out by a rotavator, in reasonable weather etc - it took two days to get a temporary patch on some lines, the joints being protected by a plastic salad box; and about two weeks for the full repair to be carried out.


One aspect generally overlooked is that by its very nature, the electricity grid is much more robust than the phone system, eg compare the size of the cables used.

Another is that if one wooden electricity pole is knocked over by a storm, cutting off a village, then after the replacement pole etc is in position, only three or four cables/wires have to be reconnected and on a very obvious basis, to supply the whole village - all the lights come on simultaneously..

Where-as basically there will be two wires for each installed phone in the village, say 100 to 1000 wires - and on a very disciplined basis, otherwise ... chaos !!

Allowing two minutes per connection ....

Rest and Rehabilitation - eg coming down for a cup of tea, calls of nature etc .....

I must say though that I sympathise with both the Phone and Electricity Linesmen, working up in the air in a very precarious position, open to whatever the weather throws at them.

And in the recent episode, far from home for many of them. (I understand that some of the Electricity Linesmen in the recent episode, came from Scotland and Ireland.)

I wonder how many BB etc Users would volunteer to work in such conditions?
Standard User MHC
(sensei) Wed 13-Nov-13 12:53:37
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Re: Phone Lines Still Down Weeks after Storm

[re: Bob_s2] [link to this post]
And ?

Believe it or not BT cannot just go out and repair the lines for two reasons. Firstly they don't have an unlimited supply of trained technicians and secondly the Local Authorities put plenty of obstacles in their way.

For example with a downed pole. They need to apply for permission to put temporary traffic control in place for when the re-instate the pole - that can take 13 weeks.



taurus excreta cerebrum vincit
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