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Weather causes broadband problems for more parts of the UK
Monday 01 October 2012 11:52:42 by Andrew Ferguson

The last week has not been kind to the attempts underway to improve broadband across the UK, and there is some evidence of this in the form of Openreach updating their Matters Beyond Our Reasonable Control (MBORC) list. Declaring MBORC changes the rules on various things like compensation and service level agreements, and as such should be used only when it can be demonstrated that the situation was well beyond normal.

List of areas declared as MBORC from 28th September 2012: Durham & Tees Valley, York, Bradford & the Dales, Leeds & West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Chesterfield, North Lincoln, Cumbria, North Manchester, South Manchester, Merseyside, Lancashire, Derby & Nottingham, Leicester, Birmingham & Black Country, Mid Wales & Shrewsbury, North Wales, Stoke & Chester, NE Scotland, Central Scotland, SE Scotland, Aylesbury, Northampton, Southampton.

Most people will agree that the extent of flooding in various parts of the UK will have caused problems, and the knock on for broadband roll-outs is that many engineering staff will have been pulled off of new roll-out projects to repair existing infrastructure. The most visible aspect is that in some parts of the UK times to install new telephone and broadband services are edging towards six weeks.

The weather is not unique to Openreach, and is also not unique to their reliance on a copper local loop, as the worst hit flood areas have seen roads torn up, which will affect fibre just as much as copper wiring. Even where the infrastructure is not damaged, fibre splicing or copper joint repairs will require the pumping out of numerous pavement chambers.

Hopefully we will have a mild autumn, so that all the network operators in the UK can catch up and then rather than rain affecting broadband play we can all talk about how to use our new superfast braodband connections, or for a good proportion of us continue to moan it is not available in our area yet.


Posted by Matchstick over 5 years ago
Errr, what ?!?
Why are Birmingham and Northampton in that list ?

Sorry have I missed something but where's this flooding that's rendered BT unable to do their job in either Birmingham or Northampton ?

This looks a lot like BT sticking additional regions on the list to try saving a little extra money.
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
I guess you missed the flash floods in Birmingham the other month and Birmingham airport diverting flights.
Posted by Matchstick over 5 years ago
There were floods back in June, but that was 3 months ago so if that's still causing a problem I'd suggest that it's not a MBORC but rather that BT aren't employing enough engineers which is most definitely a matter within their control.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
Leicester hahaha.

Its damp outside but hardly floods. Was worse in june.
Posted by charlyb over 5 years ago
I left home last Wednesday with a download speed of 2367 Kbps. I returned today expecting "superfast broadband". I switched on my computer and ran thinkbroadband's speedtest..result at 15.17 01/10/12 was 0.64 Kbps! I ran another test quarter of an hour later and the speed was 2364Kbps!
Posted by mike41 over 5 years ago
I've no trumpet to blow for Openreach or any other firm, but these big utilities do take their workers to concentrate on hard-hit areas. Our own electricity gangs were sent to Scotland winter before last to help restore power in isolated areas
Posted by Spectre_01 over 5 years ago
Doesn't have to be hammering down right now though does it, if those areas never fully recovered since the floods - i.e water table is still high then there can be ongoing issues below ground level that you can't see. Further add to that damp issues in/around peoples homes adding to the repair work stack and you have a situation which will cause OR to declare MBORC.
Posted by AndrueC over 5 years ago
> Aylesbury, Northampton

WTF? It's been mild and fairly dry down here. Had a few heavy showers last weekend but nothing out of the ordinary.
Posted by RobFlet over 5 years ago
Pretty wet here in York though. Been raining today - nothing new! River only 15 feet above normal! Locals declare "rivers'up".Many roads around us are still impassable.
Posted by SeanB84 over 5 years ago
Do you know what they mean by 'North Lincoln'? Do they mean Lincoln itself, or the local authority area North Lincolnshire?
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
Based on the other areas mentioned, not the town, but the area
Posted by Matchstick over 5 years ago
RibFlet, there are plenty of areas listed where there has been serious flooding and where it's perfectly reasonable for BT to do this.

But there are also a number of areas where the weather hasn't caused any problems recently and it looks like BT just want to temporarily redeploy engineers to the other affected areas.

If that's the case then in these areas where the weather hasn't been bad it's an issue with BT's staffing levels which is most definitely and issue under their control and they shouldn't be allowed to declare MBORC in these regions.
Posted by Matchstick over 5 years ago
Whoops, that should have been RobFleet
Sorry :(
Posted by SeanB84 over 5 years ago
thank you Andrew
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 5 years ago
The problem for Openreach is that the continual price pressure and regulation has meant the days of having spare engineering staff sitting around playing cards are gone.

Thus when something like bad weather causes problems there is very little slack available, thus non-urgent tasks are put onto the back burner.

So yes staffing levels is an issue, Openreach is recruiting more, but we will never see the old GPO staffing levels I suspect.
Posted by chrysalis over 5 years ago
I think matchstick has it right.
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