Over the last 24 hours, a serious incident has taken place in East London (near Dartford) where a service tunnel containing communications cables has been damaged by a contractor, forcing many broadband users in East London to remember what it was like to browse the Internet before broadband was available. The tunnel in question is over 30 metres below ground and due to the extensive structural damage, the repair process is likely to be quite lengthy.
It appears to be affecting a number of different services, including BT Wholesale's DSL platform. BT have indicated to service providers that in order to fix the issue, they will need to bring the cables to the surface and route them through new ducting, a process that is likely to take days, although BT doesn't appear to be providing more precise estimates.
In the mean time, Openreach have managed to work around some of the problems to get more users online, although we are seeing reports of several problems including high latency and slow speeds indicating that these are running over very congested links. Still, slow Internet is better than no Internet. At least you can Twitter about it ;)
07/04/09 Update from BT: "Service has been restored to a significant number of customers, including emergency services, all 75,000 telephony lines impacted, as well as a number of business and other communications provider circuits using alternative methods of connection. Restoring some services is a complex engineering task, but BT engineering teams are working around the clock to restore service to all remaining customers without service as soon as possible. [..] Given the complexity of the incident, it is not yet possible to accurately predict when all services will be restored. [..] BT will issue further updates as the situation changes." - Customers wishing to get updated information can call 0800 169 0199 to hear the latest.