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BT braced for thousands of broadband outages after severe weather warnings

BT’s network arm Openreach has announced that broadband outages are likely following severe weather warnings from the Environment Agency. 

Strong winds, heavy rainfall and floods over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday season have already contributed to a total of 38,000 network faults, which Openreach expects to rise to 40,000 by the middle of next week. 

Plans to get people back online and should see this figure fall to 35,000 in a week’s time, although it will take longer to get customers in Wessex, the part of the UK most seriously affected over the holidays, back online. 

BT braced for thousands of broadband outages after severe weather warnings
Familiar Sights: The river Stroud, after heavy rainfall in 2011

The Environment Agency reports that 130 properties have been flooded since yesterday and that eight severe weather warnings remain in place across the south west, Gloucestershire and the tidal areas of the Severn. 

The Hampshire, Isle of Wight and Sussex coasts, communities along the river Stour, Chester and other communities along the river Dee, Lancaster and surrounding coastal areas as well as the Cumbria coastline are also under threat. 

John Curtin, head of incident management at the Environment Agency said “The risk of flooding could continue throughout the weekend. 

“With several severe flood warnings still in place we would urge people to be prepared by checking their flood risk, signing up to free flood warnings and keeping an eye on the latest flood updates via the EA website and Twitter.”

Openreach has assigned a record number of engineers to help get homes and businesses back online following the most recent bout of extreme weather.

Over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday over 205,000 repairs were made. Openreach expects to have enough engineers on the ground to complete over 175,000 repair jobs, but notes that floods, fallen trees and other disruptions could see workers unable to reach isolated areas. 

The British weather is the chief enemy of BT’s network arm. After St. Jude’s Storm took several customers offline in October 2013, it wasn’t long before repair teams were heading back out on the road

When it’s not the weather taking out people’s broadband connections it’s normally no good scrap metal theives trying to steal the copper cables that make up much of the network. 

Image: MarilynJane/Flickr

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