Old TV Responsible For Welsh Village Broadband Outage

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Openreach sends in its ‘SAS’ engineers! Old TV set found to be responsible for two years of broadband outages in Welsh village

The cause of a regular broadband outage in the Welsh village of Aberhosan, south of Snowdonia National Park, has been traced by Openreach engineers.

Every morning, for the past 18 months, the entire village lost its broadband connection starting at 7am.

Openreach engineers began an investigation even after a cable replacement programme failed to fix the issue.

19.06.17
Openreach engineers on site in South Wales
Picture by Nick Treharne

‘SAS’ engineers

Openreach’s “most experienced engineers” reportedly walked around the village using a spectrum analyser to try to find any ‘electrical noise’ to help pinpoint the problem.

They soon discovered the culprit, when they found an old television was to blame, Openreach explained.

“For months the inhabitants of Aberhosan – along with some neighboring communities – have endured poor broadband connectivity and slow speeds every morning at 7am despite repeated visits by engineers to fix the fault,” said Openreach. “Frequent tests proved that the network was working fine and local engineers even replaced large sections of cable that served the village, but the problems remained.”

Things got so desperate that local Openreach engineer, Michael Jones, called on the assistance of colleagues from Openreach’s Chief Engineer team – the company’s telecoms equivalent of the ‘SAS’, Openreach explained.

“As a team we’d been facing an ongoing issue in Aberhosan for months,” said Jones. “Not being able to solve the fault for our customers left us feeling frustrated and downbeat, but we were determined to get to the bottom it.”

“As a final resort we decided to bring in a crack squad of engineers from the Chief Engineers Office who were based in other parts of the UK to investigate,” said Jones. “Accommodation was understandably hard to find due to the Covid-19 lockdown but we did eventually manage to find a guest house with a field near Llandrindod Wells, so the team camped there and made the 55-mile journey to Aberhosan early the next morning.”

“Having exhausted all other avenues we wanted to do one final test to see if the fault was being caused by a phenomenon known as SHINE (Single High-level Impulse Noise) where electrical interference is omitted from an appliance that can then have an impact on broadband connectivity,” Jones explained.

“By using a device called a Spectrum Analyser we walked up and down the village in the torrential rain at 6am to see if we could find an ‘electrical noise’ to support our theory,” he said. “And at 7am, like clockwork, it happened! Our device picked up a large burst of electrical interference in the village.”

Old TV

“The source of the ‘electrical noise’ was traced to a property in the village,” said Jones. “It turned out that at 7am every morning the occupant would switch on their old TV which would in-turn knock out broadband for the entire village.”

“As you can imagine when we pointed this out to the resident, they were mortified that their old second hand TV was the cause of an entire village’s broadband problems, and they immediately agreed to switch it off and not use again.”

Since locating the cause of the fault which besides impacting not only the residents of Aberhosan but also properties surrounding the village, there have been no further reported issues with the network, Openreach said.

“Our team were delighted to have been able to solve the broadband mystery in Aberhosan and it’s testament to their determination and commitment,” explained Openreach chief engineer’s lead for Wales, Suzanne Rutherford.

“Sadly this isn’t quite as a rare as people may think,” said Rutherford. “Anything with electric components – from outdoor lights to microwaves to CCTV cameras can potentially have an impact on your broadband connection. We’d just advise the public to make sure that their electric appliances are properly certified and meet current British Standards and if you have a fault, report it to your service provider in the first instance so that we can investigate.”

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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