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One year and four engineering visits later, my phone line is still faulty

semitone440
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Thanks: 1
Registered: ‎10-01-2017

One year and four engineering visits later, my phone line is still faulty

Please would someone in Support take pity on me and take charge of an intermittent phone fault that has been plaguing me for the last year, and which so far four Openreach engineering visits have failed to fix. During the first three visits (while my phone was still with BT) the fault stubbornly refused to show up. Finally, this time the fault stayed on long enough for the engineer to hear it when he arrived, but it then went away for just long enough for him to make his escape. Since then the fault has stayed on almost permanently for the last four days.

It's the same routine every time. First I wait until the fault is serious enough to report. Then, with a wired phone plugged into the master test socket, customer support can hear the crackles, but when they run a line test no fault shows up, leading to the conclusion that the fault is likely to be within my property and an engineering visit is needed. Each time it's a different engineer who starts again from scratch with the assumption that the fault is within or close to my property. On three occasions now they have called out a cherry picker to check the overhead junction boxes in the lane, but they never find anything.

It could just be coincidence but the problem started during the time when fibre broadband was being brought to the village. This involved diverting all our lines through a new local combined PCP/DSLAM cabinet and bypassing our previous PCP cabinet in the next village.

The symptoms are consistent with a high resistance joint rather than insulation breakdown, in that the noise is only there while line current is being drawn. There is also an associated increase in hum level as the line becomes unbalanced. There is no obvious correlation between the fault and factors like wind, rain, temperature or time of day, it just seems to come and go at random. The only obvious pattern is that by the time the engineer shows up, the fault is very likely to be back in its dormant phase.

It is noticeable that incoming ringing can often either bring on or temporarily suspend the fault, so delicate handling is needed to prevent the fault from going away during investigation.

An obvious suspect would be a faulty joint where the old cables were intercepted during the installation of the new cabinet, however if there is such a fault it has somehow managed to evade all detection.

Since switching to fibre broadband (FTTC), the broadband connection has been rock solid. Admittedly the noise margin is very healthy at around 20dB, but if the fault were between here and the cabinet I would at least expect to see some fluctuation when the fault is on, but it never wavers.

During one Openreach visit, the engineer swapped out the entire section of line from the cabinet to the exchange. At first this appeared to fix the fault but after a few weeks it reappeared, implying that the fault is not between the cabinet and the exchange.

All of which leads me to wonder if this might not be a line fault at all but an exchange fault. I suggested this to the last engineer but he said he would need clear evidence for this before going down that route.

And so we're right back at square one again, except that the fault is steadily getting worse. It would be easy enough to fix if only Openreach were prepared to be a little more flexible, and they'd save themselves a lot of wasted time, but going repeatedly through the usual channels there seems little prospect of this ever happening. Ticket number 146929754 is off hold and awaiting your response, so the ball is back in your court.

5 REPLIES 5
Townman
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 20,185
Thanks: 8,226
Fixes: 104
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: One year and four engineering visits later, my phone line is still faulty

Hi,

Sorry I'm going to ask a basic question - have you tried and alternative hand set?

I used to have a wired hand set I used specifically for quite line testing ... on the last occasion I used it the line was awful ... lots of noise ... so we got an engineer lined up, even though PN could see no fault.  Then being concerned about the NNF charges, I tested with a cordless (something I would normally advise against) and the line was as quiet as a graveyard.

Superusers are not staff, but they do have a direct line of communication into the business in order to raise issues, concerns and feedback from the community.

semitone440
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Thanks: 1
Registered: ‎10-01-2017

Re: One year and four engineering visits later, my phone line is still faulty

Thanks, yes I've tried three handsets altogether, so can safely rule that out. The clincher is that the last Openreach engineer was able to hear the crackling on his handset plugged into the test socket, so I'm off the hook, so to speak. Another Openreach visit is now scheduled for Monday so could it be fifth time lucky?

Townman
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 20,185
Thanks: 8,226
Fixes: 104
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: One year and four engineering visits later, my phone line is still faulty

Here's a thought I have just shared elsewhere.  If the engineer cannot locate the fault testing from the house - try and get them to test the d-side from the cabinet back to the house.  I have known a problem to be not seen form the house, but detected on tests from the exchange to the house.  Sadly some engineers believe that if the test from the house shows no fault, there is no fault.

Do you notice that the noise abates after a line test or after someone rings the line?  Unfortunately test / ring currents / voltages can fix some intermittent issues!!

Superusers are not staff, but they do have a direct line of communication into the business in order to raise issues, concerns and feedback from the community.

semitone440
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Thanks: 1
Registered: ‎10-01-2017

Re: One year and four engineering visits later, my phone line is still faulty

Yes, incoming ringing will often temporarily fix the fault, although at other times it can also induce it. The good news is that the fault is on almost continuously at the moment, but it would only take the engineer to phone ahead to say he's on his way for it to go away at the critical moment.

Given that this all started at the point when they spliced into the cables to divert us through a new cabinet, one of those joints would be an obvious suspect. But they've already swapped out the line from the cabinet to the exchange and if it were the section from the cabinet to my home would you not expect to see at least some fluctuation in the VDSL noise margin when the fault is on? But it's rock solid.

semitone440
Dabbler
Posts: 14
Thanks: 1
Registered: ‎10-01-2017

Re: One year and four engineering visits later, my phone line is still faulty

Guess what? As predicted, the engineer phoned to say he was on his way and that cleared the fault, so yet another wasted visit. As usual, the line checks found nothing so he just gave the fuses in the exchange a bit of a prod. All I can do now is wait and see if the fault comes back. [update] And I didn't have to wait long, the fault is now back.