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Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

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Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

On Wednesday a tractor flail trimming hedges in our road sliced through the cable from an underground duct running up the telegraph pole supplying myself and a neighbour. This was at 11.00 and I rang PlusNet on my mobile (extra cost added to phone bill? landline was in the same boat as broadband). After checking and confirming an open line the job was put out to Openreach to repair. The time quoted was by Midnight Friday.

I later discovered where the line had been cut after my neighbour contacted me and passed this on to Plusnet. I had assumed until then that only I was involved and that maybe an engineer had inadvertently disconnected me at the cabinet, or similar. 

 

I tried to get a time and date for repair from yourselves but all you could get from Openreach was "By Friday at 23.59". Being without Broadband in this day and age for any time is excrutiating. If I was a rural or rural based business, life would be even harder.

 

Our Government is committed to fast Broadband everywhere before the next GE or soon after. Everything is done by broadband now, ring up a bank, or a government department (tax, Driving Licence, MOT, etc) and the message is usually "you can do this online by visiting...." (even PlusNet has a similar message I believe?).

Broadband is as essential as electricity now.

Two Sundays back we suffered a powercut on our street due to high winds and cable damage we were out for 6 hours, but in all that time were kept informed as engineers attended within an hour and stayed with the job until complete. The Next day (Monday) they cut the power again to replace the temporary spliced repair of the evening before with a permanent cable replacement.

We have had high winds since but we did nor suffer power drops or power cuts. The Engineer says we are solid on our our road, he was very confident.

First point,  why isnt Broadband now treated as essential service and why arent engineers called out to every network fail? (I would not expect them to fix a lone customer instantly, but network - two or more involved) We have no landline phone, our neighbours have no landline phone, there are no other neighbours close. Isn't there a statutory requirement to restore phone lines quickly (law written before broadband and not updated)?

On Friday, an Engineer called Derek arrived. He took one look, confirmed the broken cable but said that the job needed safety barriers and traffic lights, permission from the County Council, Highways England, (and Uncle Tom Cobbley?), as the road is 60mph rated.

Nothing passes at 60mph, it's on a local bus route, a tractor and a bus cannot pass each other, the road is too narrow. All cars slow or stop if they meet a bus, a tractor, home heating oil tanker, delivery van, etc. Over the years I have stood in the road to stop traffic on occassion when a tractor or Combine needs to enter or leave a field. Parking an Openreach van with flashing beacons to shield the manhole and telegraph pole would have seen the job completed, and probably very quickly. Two Openreach vans better still, one each side of the manhole/pole.

As it happened, a second Engineer was despatched to see what "Derek" was on about in his report and he arrived within the hour, so presumably two vans could have been used. The second Engineer said that with the report filed, it would have to be done the long way with permissions and equipment. "It won't be today for certain despite our quoted completion time"

"Will it be done on Monday?" I asked, "or even Tuesday?"

"Perhaps, but permission can take a day to arrange, maybe longer".

"If Openreach had looked on Thursday or even Wednesday, you could have done it today" I said, "we're already over 55 hours without phone and broadband due to a network fault, isn't there a requirement to reinstate phone lines at least?"

He wasn't sure but said that two customers did put us higher on the priority list. If either of us were "red-button" or had a confirmed medical problem that relied upon the phone, they would have fixed the line perhaps on the Wednesday.

It seems that Openreach have the resources but not the impetus to get repairs completed quickly. To me it seems that Broadband is being treated as a hobby instead of a vital service. The PM speaks of universal fast broadband as providing a huge economic boost and therefore essential. It is no use to business or those working from home in a world where you order this evening and recieve the goods or service by tomorrow if it takes nearly 3 days to not repair a fault and who knows how long beyond that, is it.

Unable to wait any longer I have bought a 4G router and set up another network at home. Faster up and down than landline based, but more expensive too. However I do not want to be put in tis position again and will keep it as a second string, despite the cost.

I cannot grasp how we have an organisation as big as Openreach that cannot rejoin or replace no more than 10 metres of damaged cable on their network for perhaps a week, maybe more and who seem to think this is acceptable for a service that operates at the speed of light. It's laughable  when you consider it isn't it. A few years ago 2 Engineers replaced 150 metres up my drive in under an hour, and one was only there to help cross the road at hight from the same pole, similar connection, No traffic lights. Maybe such talent has left Openreach in the meantime?

Plusnet must use its services, but you must also have influence surely and meet at high level with Openreach high flyers, I think this sort of lacadasical attutude should be raised with them. They are either a serious business or they are not, in which case they (or BT, their owners) will fall to more serious contenders as High speed communication becomes as essential as the air we breathe.

 

 

 

 

 

18 REPLIES 18
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Hero
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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

If you were a business then you should be on a business package and get higher priority service. This is obviously more expensive. If you are a high priority 'red button' household, as you state you get this higher priority. Wherever there is a high priority service there must be, by definition, those considered lower priority.

As Plusnet is BT plc's budget ISP I guess that this means us. I also have a 4G MiFi unit for emergencies. Depending on the service providers within range you will find that if you shop around that mobile data is not particularly expensive.

If you go to a more expensive ISP you may get higher priority service plus generous compensation when your service is down. Currently the choice is yours.

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Thank you for your reply Baldrick1.

No I am not a business but I would willingly pay more if it meant greater reliabilty, quicker repairs.

Why should any customer be rated "non-essential" and therefore worthy of indifferent response?

I have been with PlusNet for a very long time now, since long before it bcame an arm of BT. I have seen it better, I have also seen it worse over that time too. I am generally more than happy with the service that they offer.

A budget ISP can surely have other levels of service within it's offering if it so chooses.

This line fault is a BT Openreach network issue, nothing to do with PlusNet other than they are the ISP and I can only approach them with faults. Next Door, supplied from the same pole and likewise with no phone or signal, are BT customers. 

I do not seek compensation, I would rather any money offered to me in compensation was spent fixing the fault and reinforcing the network in the first place.

Since I now have 4G for emergencies I will seek the most cost-effective solution to keep it as a second string to the bow, thanks for the shopping around advice. Where we live we get a good EE signal but Vodafone has no signal here, that restricts choice somewhat.

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

It's unfortunately the way these things are treated these days. Whilst in reality broadband is essential for day to day things, it isn't considered in the same bracket as incidents such as a power outage, mainly because a power outage could be a risk to life-no heat, inability to cook etc. However important broadband is to our ability to carry out business or otherwise, we aren't going to freeze to death.

As for the matter of the repair itself, openreach have numerous service level agreements with different ISP's, most being the basic 2 working day response time. Higher SLA's would naturally cost more, and I cant think off the top of my head of any providers who provide this by default-todays market is largely price dominated so it rarely makes business sense to provide the higher price point service as the uptake isnt likely enough for any provider to do this commercially.

Like you say, there is a priority when it comes to emergency lines for medical alarms and such like, but by an large openreach arent really that well resourced-many areas have large outstanding job lists (as told to me by an engineer who visited my neighbour after waiting nearly 2 weeks). As for the lower priority though it's not the ISP you're with, but the service level applied-you'll only get bumped up if you qualify on this medical ground, and of course these resources need to be held on standby for the priority cases.

Finally, the requirement for permissions etc is common where this kind of work is needed. Whether or not traffic slows on the road or not, if it's a 60mph road it'll need management, hence council permission-health and safety and all that.

To be honest you have the right idea-if loss of service is going to be heavily detrimental to you, a back up is always a good idea since you never can plan for this kind of thing. I myself have a data plan on my mobile far in excess of what I usually need, but it wasnt much more than I would have paid anyway, and means I can tether to my phone should the need arise. With unlimited data plans now becoming more common this is a lot more viable now than it used to be.
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Hero
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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

@danludlow 

If you are shopping around it's worth looking at outfits who piggy back on to the actual mainstream service providers. For example I use Giffgaff, who piggy back on to the O2 network. They do monthly contracts and £20 will buy you 40GB to use in the month. Obviously they have lower cost options. You only need to activate it for a month if you have a problem.

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Thanks, I'll look into it, a bit of research and give it some thought. I feel there's no great urgency so I can weigh it all up carefully.

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Thanks for your reply Kdog.

If better levels of service are available at higher cost, could these be on a per customer basis?

Maybe better levels of service and reliability offered at extra cost by PlusNet would be popular?

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

I think business accounts can add higher priority for an extra cost. Dont think it's on residential, and its phone line only (though obviously that would be enough in this case).

Might be worth a look-Im don't think there's a huge price difference between the two and might just give that extra layer of cover. Don't need to be running a business to use a business account.
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Hero
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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

I suspect that in the eyes of BT plc that if you want an alleged better level of service with a better router, compensation etc. be it at a higher price then you should move from Plusnet to the more expensive BT Retail service.

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Thanks Kdog, I'll have a look at business products.

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Thanks Baldrick1.

I'll look at BT's offerings and see if what they offer.

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Can't say I believe moving to BT would improve the openreach service level-after all the other impacted line is a BT customer and that's not getting fixed any sooner.

To me, BT costs more because of the hardware they supply-the far superior smart hub over the hub one. Of course with a little effort on the customer side this can be achieved by buying one and configuring it to PN, thus enjoying the hardware and the cheaper subscription.

On the openreach side however, I imagine it's the same regardless of ISP.
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Superuser
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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Let's face it, Openreach have a monopoly on maintaining the infrastructure. ( apart from the bits where Virgin have a presence)The ISPs have no real means to apply pressure. In normal business, if your supplier doesnt perform, you change supplier, not possible in the case of OR. The best that can be done is to have an SLA and hit OR  in the pocket when they dont meet it! That we have, and in this case OR have met it ( more or less ) by getting an engineer out. The problem is that there are so many ways for OR to get out of the SLA, like in this case where other agencies are involved to close roads etc.

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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Unfortunately, as mentioned above, it is health and safety driven. Doesn't matter if you have half a dozen vans along the road, there is a set procedure as defined by law to follow. If you were, as a motorist, to run into said vans, without traffic light protection, the first place you or your insurance company would be looking to is the company responsible. People do actually end up in Court for breaches of legislation i.e. the staff themselves. You might think it doesn't apply to you but it can do..."I told the Openreach person to just get on with it regardless" is no different to aiding and abetting a crime. It's one reason I follow the rules (laws) whenever I do electrical work. Killing / injuring someone would see me in Court. That Openreach engineer is in the same boat.

 

When it comes to cable repairs, takes time. Time to come into the real world. As you have found, having a 2nd source when it come to connectivity, is good. I've been there since 2008. As to having people at your beck and call to repair faults, costs lots of money. I think you'll be happy just paying what you do at the moment. Even a business customer might well come unstuck once it comes to repairs out in the wild.

Ever helpful. Grin Sure, I’d love to help you out. Now which way did you come in?
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Re: Line Down-Very Poor response from Openreach

Idonno I've been thinking further about this. The pole supplying mysels and my neighbours landlines is an electricity pole carrying the Overhead 240 volt supply to my street. Phones use it lower down but higher than Double Deckers and other vehicles which pass below it.

3 or 4 years ago the Electricity cables blew down in a storm. power Networks attended within the hour and had it reconnected within 3. it meant bringing in a platform vehicle and 3 Engineers each with a landrover. The road was not closed, traffic continued to pass but slowly as they were signalled by. That job was far bigger than restablishing a parted phone line and it was done without any fuss.

My neighbour, who is much nearer to the pole and can see it from his house tells me that there two Openreach vans there just now checking it out, so at least its on someone's radar and just maybe they'll effect repairs promptly.