BT Broadband Suffers UK-Wide Outage

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A power outage at a BT exchange in Birmingham has left consumers and businesses with no web access

A major power failure at a BT exchange in Birmingham is causing connectivity problems for broadband customers across the UK, the company has confirmed.

“We can confirm that, as a result of a power failure at one of our major exchanges, some customers may currently be experiencing loss of broadband service,” a BT spokesman said in a statement. “Our engineers are on-site and the majority of customers’ service has already been restored.

“We are working to restore service to any remaining customers as soon as possible this afternoon. Should any customers continue to experience difficulty in accessing their broadband service, they are advised to reboot their modem or contact their ISP,” the company added.

The first reports of lost connections began to appear at around 1pm BST. By 3pm BST many customers on consumer packages were back online, but BT said that those using their business services were still experiencing severe problems.

Many BT broadband customers took to Twitter to complain about the outage and the company’s failure to answer its helpline.

“Do BT not have Business Contingency Management plans in place? Extraordinary to think that 1 power outage in Brum cd cause so many probs!” tweeted Nigel Howle in Stoke-on-Trent

“Not just me then with #BT business broadband down. Why do I pay a premium for such poor service. Any suggestions for a decent rural ISP?” tweeted Mike Turner in Brighton

Tweeting from the @BTCare account, the company is now claiming that service should be back to normal.

BT’s fibre investment

The news follows a similar outage at BT’s Edinburgh node in November 2010, which left more than 20,000 UK households without broadband over the weekend. The problem affected areas including Northern England, Northern Ireland, Southern Scotland and the Highlands and Islands.

Meanwhile, BT is boosting its efforts to deploy super-fast fibre-based broadband services across the country. In September, for example, BT Openreach announced that an extra one million homes and businesses in the UK would be connected to its ongoing fibre deployment across the country.

The former UK incumbent named an extra 144 telephone exchanges that are to be upgraded to fibre by Autumn 2012. The carrier is of course spending £2.5 billion to deploy fibre to two-thirds of UK homes and businesses by the end of 2015, and is also bidding for a further £360 million government subsidy, announced last month for England and Scotland, to help get fibre to rural areas.

However, the commercial boss of rival Internet service provider TalkTalk recently warned that BT’s attempts to regain its former dominance of the market could leave Britain with a second-class broadband infrastructure.

“At all times BT is thinking about how it can recover the monopoly position that it lost many years ago,” he told the Observer newspaper. “I don’t think that is going to represent good value for the British taxpayer.”

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