back to article BT outage kills phone lines in Eastbourne and Brighton

BT phone lines were down for 20,000 customers in Brighton and Eastbourne this morning, cutting phone contact to businesses and homes and even preventing a patient from getting through to the Royal Sussex County Hospital. A power cut in the Eastbourne Telephone exchange caused the landline outage that was first logged just …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    O rly?

    Living spitting distance from the hospital, I guess I'm lucky to have no interruption at all. Then again, the other end of the wet string that is my phone line is probably linked to a Glasgow exchange judging by my net speeds.

  2. Mike Pellatt
    Thumb Down

    "Power Cut" - I don't think so.

    That must be a bit, errr, economical with the actualite, since exchanges big enough to service that many lines have massive batteries and generators to top them up if the mains is off for ages.

    So either:

    i) The batteries failed - poor maintenance

    ii) The generators failed when called for - see i)

    iii) It was something other than a "power cut".

    1. Ben Holmes

      Re: "Power Cut" - I don't think so.

      Conspiracy Cat is looking for a Conspiracy....

      1. Ted Treen

        Re: "Power Cut" - I don't think so.


        Undoubtedly Hanlon's razor is appropriate here...

    2. Refugee from Windows

      Re: "Power Cut" - I don't think so.

      Got to be something more if it's all off, as said no batteries and no generator working?

      I will know more on Sunday morning, some of my colleagues may have been called out to provide emergency communication links.

      Coat, 'cos there's a 2m handheld in the pocket naturally.

  3. al 3


    Interesting, I have UPS and line conditioning in my own LLU cabinet in our exchange, mainly because openreach carry out a generator test every month.....

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    yes, only reason you need to keep that landline is

    ...just in case you have to make emergency calls

  5. cs94njw

    > If you're trying to get through to us by phone, phone lines in our area are not working. BT are

    > investigating, so for now please email.

    WTF!? Everyone else has a mobile for when they're not at home, or their landline fails.

    A multi-million pound business doesn't do the same?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We have company mobiles as policy.

      It might work in offices where hotdesking / working from home is encouraged, but in our office pretty much everyone has a flat mobile phone in their desk drawer whose status is emulating that of Schrödinger's cat.

      As for giving my personal mobile to my clients, fuck that noise.

    2. Annihilator Silver badge

      Cascading outage

      Well you've clearly not been in an exchange outage. 80% of the calls that would normally be made suddenly go on to the cellular network as everyone reaches for their mobiles, turning the mobile signal availability into something approaching new year's eve levels of patchiness. Especially if DSL goes at the same time which I'm assuming is the case here as 3G falls through the floor too.

      Besides which in the Brightec instance you quoted they're talking about a central line to a switchboard. Which poor sap did you have in mind to start taking all those calls via their mobile exactly?

  6. nematoad Silver badge

    And that's not all.

    It's not just the 'phones that BT appears to be having trouble with.

    My ISP has a service status board and that reports that due to the adverse weather BT Openreach has declared a state of MBORC (matters beyond our reasonable control) for 12 areas of the country. This says BT is due to the increased number of faults, presumably due to water damage or something of the sort. The result is that DNS lookups take forever to complete leading to some sites timing out and generally making the internet a real misery. Although there is a message from BT at my ISP's status board saying that they would use overtime over the holiday to try and sort out the problem it is still as bad as a it was last week.

    The real kick in the teeth is BT's timetable for rectifying the problems, EIGHT days with no update due until the 16th of May. Now if this does not justify a refund then I don't know what does. Just to declare that things are "beyond our reasonable control" does not, to my mind, get BT off the hook.

    This brings to mind the famous BritishRail quote about "the wrong kind of snow." Doesn't BT realise that it rains in the UK from time to time and they surely have the technology to waterproof their equipment.


    Oh, and yes it did take me an age to post this rant.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And that's not all.

      :O free cooling

      I need the secret to dat there ability to put live equipment in water without it exploding or eletricuting the scuba BOFH's!

      1. Chris Parsons Bronze badge

        Re: And that's not all.

        and again...this time in English?

  7. Aoife

    Can't use my mobile in my flat, so rather reliant on my landline. :(

  8. wobbly1

    Strange , its not all lines in eastbourne

    My talk talk unbundled bb and land line is still fine. the f*ck up may be restricted to BT customers of the exchange.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    oh the irony

    ROFLMHO. I am with TalkTalk and they haven't been having problems with their phones in Eastbourne today. They've been working perfectly. No trouble at all.

    I know this for a fact because I was on to their "Customer Service" line about getting my Fibre Optic upgrade order sorted out ... for the third time. The only reason I'm still with them is coz they keep reducing the cost of the package each time they mess up. Quids in!

    Posting anonymously for obvious reasons.

  10. An0n C0w4rd

    AFAIK, most telco gear runs on +/- 48 volt DC supplies and is not run directly from a main supply but rather they have banks of rectifiers that convert mains to DC which then charge banks of batteries which then supply the gear. If the mains fails you normally have a couple of hours on batteries to get out and kick-start the generator. If the genset is bad then telco's usually have backup genset trucks that they can roll in, or if not, they can go down to their local hire shop and get one.

    Hence, I agree with Mike that its not a power cut, or if it is, its internal to the exchange (i.e. the DC supply system croaked). The fact its down for this long is a further clue.

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    "uh oh"

    As a former telco employee I have to side with those who point out there are battery banks and generators to handle multiple DAYS of power outage at major excchanges.

    Battery banks feeding busbars heavy enough to mostly _vaporise_ a spanner carelessly dropped across 'em (Witnessed this a few times)

    Perhaps the local ne'er-do-wells stole the diesel and carted off the batteries and engines for scrap?

  12. David 45

    No volts or coulombs?

    Hmm. Sounds a bit odd. When I was a BT man, back in the days of "clockwork" exchanges, there were stand-by 50 volt lead-acid batteries in ALL exchanges floating across the power plant, varying in physical size and capacity, depending on the exchange size. Main exchange batteries (we're talking about thousands of lines serving towns and cities here) were absolutely huge, with their own large dedicated room, each 1.5. volt cell measuring about a 2-foot cube, with thousands of ampere-hours available (not a good idea to drop anything metallic across the terminals or main busbars!) and were supposed to be able to run the exchange for 24 hours. Most (including medium-size exchanges) also had a later addition of a diesel generator, so battery power was hardly used in the event of a power cut. Rural exchanges with a few hundred lines had correspondingly smaller power plants (no stand-by generator - caused a few headaches in the 1987 hurricane!), each cell's physical size being about 1 ft x 6" x 6" but they were also supposed to be good for 24 hours. Therefore, with all this "belt and braces", I'm always puzzled whenever I see a report of a "power failure" causing problems. I'm guessing that maybe there is very little back-up in these days of truly electronic exchanges that use a lot less power or maybe there is a local supply for fibre-to-the-cabinet that has no back-up. Maybe a current BT employee would set me straight on current practice!

  13. Endymion

    Still the same setup in most exchanges - inverters, 48v battery strings and diesel backup. Not sure what the hold-up time for the battery banks is, but I'd assume that it doesn't need to do more than ride through until the generator kicks in.

  14. Nigel Steward

    What a disaster

    BT claim to have fixed this at 20:25 last night - clearly a serious problem, or they were totally crass at fixing it, or probably both.

    Do users get a remission of line rental, or compensation - I hope so.


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