back to article Ancient telly borked broadband for entire Welsh village

Turning off an old second-hand television has restored internet services to a village in Wales. UK network provider Openreach explained that idyllic Aberhosan, which lies just south of Snowdonia National Park, would routinely lose internet services at 0700. Openreach engineers replaced cables in the hamlet, to no avail, then …

  1. Alister

    Turning off an old second-hand television has restored internet services to a village in Wales.

    I can't see any mention of it being second-hand, just old.

    1. Jim Willsher

      BBC article covering same story also says second-hand.

  2. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Need a rubber hammer

    Quick clout on the top used to fix most problems with old CRTs.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Need a rubber hammer

      Thumping on the side with a screwdriver is the canonical method.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Need a rubber hammer

        That often used to work with power transistors too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Need a rubber hammer

          And people. But you need an alibi too.

      2. Drew Scriver

        Re: Need a rubber hammer

        Depends on the problem. I shared a flat with some other students back when I was in college and we had an old CRT TV in the living room.

        Occasionally the image would flatten to a single bright line in the middle. Tried cleaning the variable resistors to no avail.

        Then I brought in an old-fashioned wooden mallet that I had made in shop class in secondary school. Worked like a charm - we'd just whack the top of the cabinet with it. We kept it on top of the TV, next to the (acoustic!) remote control.

        Oh, those were the days!

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Need a rubber hammer

          The old dry solder joint. Or for older stuff, a valve needs reseating in a socket.

          Or the scan coil round the neck of the tube, where it connects to the vertical scan with a push on connector, the contact surface oxidises.

          In the old days we fixed tellies with tools. Then it became sub assembly swap, now it’s complete unit swap.

        2. phuzz Silver badge

          Re: Need a rubber hammer

          My brother bought a TV off a (dodgy) friend back when we were teens. It needed a slap in one spot (top, slightly left of centre) to re-align the red part of the picture when you turned it on, and a slap in the side to fix the right speaker, periodically.

    2. Juan Inamillion

      Re: Need a rubber hammer

      'clout' Now there's a word you don't hear much of these days...

      This is the correct procedure though, always worked in my day.

      1. Tweetiepooh

        Re: Need a rubber hammer

        Clout is a term we talk about a fair bit but I've not yet tried : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clout_archery

        1. Dante Alighieri
          IT Angle

          Popinjay

          Clout is great fun. Lean at the waist - raising bow arm makes it hard...

          Never found a $1 shoot though

      2. Nick Gisburne

        Re: Need a rubber hammer

        It may my Yorkshire origins, but if anyone's device needs a gentle nudge, my catchphrase has always been:

        "If in doubt, give it a clout"

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Need a rubber hammer

        clout also a term for a female part!

        1. werdsmith Silver badge

          Re: Need a rubber hammer

          People with authority are said to have plenty of clout.

          Lucky them!

      4. Dan 55 Silver badge

        Re: Need a rubber hammer

        Ne'er cast a clout till May be out.

        Not sure which of the definitions of clout given above we're using though.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Need a rubber hammer

          female part

        2. Dante Alighieri
          Coat

          May or Mei

          Hawthorn flowers it is then

        3. Chris G Silver badge

          Re: Need a rubber hammer

          As far as I know, a clout in that context, is a spade full if soil, think clod of earth.

          1. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

            Re: Need a rubber hammer

            I have always been told that the clout that needs to last until April is clothing (as in "breech-clout"), and comes from the days people were sewn into their clothes for the winter, bathing being bad for you in winter.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Need a rubber hammer

      AKA Percussive Maintenence

  3. cantankerous swineherd Silver badge

    openreach sharpened their device did they?

  4. redpawn Silver badge

    Use it up,

    Wear it out, make it do or do without. As a fine old piece of equipment, I wonder if he was getting strong doses of x-ray each morning as well. Off to have more wine from grandma's pewter goblets. Waste not want not.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Use it up,

      No doubt the plonk is decanted into those lovely crystal decanters first.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Use it up,

        Well that would put lead in his pencil.

        1. chivo243 Silver badge
          Coat

          Re: Use it up,

          Haven't heard that in ages, from a guy whose family name is Clapper!

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: Use it up,

          "Well that would put lead in his pencil."

          Marginally better than Vaseline glass!

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Boffin

    18 months?

    It sounds like the complaints were ignored for a year and a half ... so the "NEWS" is that we found the problem now, not that they were ignored that long. It would be interesting to investigate why it took so long to send an engineer out.

    Had El Reg talked about the weird Welsh village problems I expect that we'd have seen pages and pages of people saying the the problem was RFI caused by someone getting up in the morning and doing the same old thing every day (the icon is a joke).

    1. Francis Boyle

      Are you suggesting

      that won't happen?

    2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse Silver badge

      Re: 18 months?

      Actually, 18 months seems like an improvement in getting Openreach to take things seriously.

      Still, why they didn't do a spectrum scan as part of initial and basic fault diagnosis is anyone's guess.

      1. Wellyboot Silver badge

        Re: 18 months?

        It takes time (money), because an awful lot of the UK cable installation is very old, new wires tend to fix a big enough % of issues anyway for the bean counters to set it as job #1.

      2. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: 18 months?

        Openreach should use kit that is not so sensitive to RFI. Pathetic.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: 18 months?

          I don't know how it works in the UK (this problem is a clue, I guess) but in the US you have to get all commercial kit tested and certified to prove that it doesn't emit RFI and that external RFI will not affect it. Everything that I design has inductors and filters in all external connections, even the power supply leads and ground connections so that nothing can get out, and nothing can get in. Every design is tested with massive amounts of external RFI applied and has to pass before it gets out there.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: 18 months?

            We don’t make this stuff in the Uk.

          2. Nial

            Re: 18 months?

            " in the US you have to get all commercial kit tested and certified to prove that it doesn't emit RFI and that external RFI will not affect it"

            All new kit has to be 'CE' marked , it sounds like this pre-dates this.

            There's a lot of crap comes in from China with the CE symbol (you'll have seen it on power supplies etc) that I'm sure has never been near a testing lab.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: 18 months?

              "There's a lot of crap comes in from China with the CE symbol "

              There are two remarkably similar CE marks. One means it's supposed to be made to certain safe standards, the other means it's another China Export.

          3. Snar

            Re: 18 months?

            In the EU and UK, if doesn't matter by what margin you fail EMC limits by, if there is enough money behind you, you pan push anything through and Ofcom bend down nicely for you. Case in point is Powerline networking junk.

      3. AlbertH
        WTF?

        Re: 18 months?

        Still, why they didn't do a spectrum scan as part of initial and basic fault diagnosis is anyone's guess.

        Simple - because they're clueless. It took them three years to identify a joint that became waterlogged in wet weather in Lincolnshire. They cited the "Electricity At Work Act" and said that "with the voltages involved, it wasn't safe to work in the rain".!!! In the end, I located the faulty joint for them, with a 30 second application of a Time Domain Reflectometer. The next time it wasn't raining, they opened the pit I'd identified, and re-jointed the cable. The whole village then got >20Mbs instead of the 50kbs they'd been getting on sunny days!

    3. JohnKelly

      Re: 18 months?

      They replaced the cables in the viollage. Hardly ignoring the problem

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Aitor 1 Silver badge

      Re: 18 months?

      I just found out why my computer and my wifes computer sometimes crashed.. even after all the filters and even an avr ups. I coulnd detect it witj my oscilloscope.

      Well, it was her motherboard.. took me ages to discover that.

      1. cortland

        Re: 18 months?

        Perhaps I should come out of retirement again. I had a career doing EMI/EMC after 21 years in the US Army.

    6. OtakuN3rd

      Re: 18 months?

      I was thinking along the same lines.... They could have asked some of the local amateur radio operators and I'm sure they would have loved the challenge.

      There was a story not too long ago about someone's home brew wireless doorbell system knocking out vehicle key fobs. The community sicced the local amateur radio operators on the culprit.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: 18 months?

        I have been out with my Tecsun several times to help track down RFI.

    7. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

      Re: 18 months?

      No, it sounds like Openreach spent 18 months doing everything they could think of, including replacing all the existing cabling in the village. Hardly ignoring things, in fact quite an expensive way of ignoring things.

      Now, if they could just replace all the rusty old barbed wire fencing that is used to transmit the phone signal in some rural areas with Fibre, then we'd all be happy.

      Having said that, I got FTTP in rural Ceredigion a couple of years ago, and I see that I can now upgrade to the 900Mbps service for an extra £10/month on top of my what I'm paying for 300Mbps (which is £50). It's very uneven provision!

      1. T. F. M. Reader Silver badge

        Re: 18 months?

        upgrade to the 900Mbps service for an extra £10/month on top of my what I'm paying for 300Mbps (which is £50)

        What is the use case that fills your 300Mbps pipe[*], and why would you want to pay £10/month more for a nominally fatter pipe that is not likely to improve your experience? Genuine question.

        [Aside: I guess I am lucky to live elsewhere. I have 200Mbps FTTP for the equivalent of <£16/month and I keep refusing to pay ~£2.25/month more for 1Gbps because I can't see how it will improve my experience.]

        [*] My rule of thumb says that with H264 one needs 25Mbps for 4K video streaming, so if your household streams 4 different 4K movies simultaneously (from different sources?) you might need 100Mbps. This seems to be a rather extreme case, frankly. With H265 you'll need 15Mbps per 4K stream.

        1. mdubash

          Re: 18 months?

          He might need it because most services are still ridiculously asymmetrical.

          Take Virgin (please). I got mildly excited when they started laying cables around the periphery of my home town but as soon as you burrow deep into the Ts&Cs to find the actual bandwidth promised, it may be 300Mbps downsteam but upstream it's a niggardly 20Mbps. All for a not-so-niggardly £50+ / month.

          All moot since they gave up digging up pavements and roads before they got to my house...

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 18 months?

      Reading the story as provided above, it suggests that the Welsh "engineers" were clueless, and they had to get some competent English guys to trace the problem!

      AC because the sheep-lovers have long memories!

  6. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    More to the point

    It says a lot for Openreach's equipment that it can neither tolerate nor recover from such interference... current equipment must work up to the specified RF field level (several volts per metre) *and* recover once the interference goes away...

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: More to the point

      Exactly. How crappy is OpenReach's equipment, anyway? It would seem it's about as bad as their front line field engineers ... 18 MONTHS to resolve this? Really? Wow!

      And please note it's not actually resolved. One person agreeing not to turn on their legally owned & operated telly doesn't fix the core issue, no matter how hard you squint at it.

      1. John Doe 12

        Re: More to the point

        That TV is not legally operated!!! From what it sounds like it is in clear breach of the law as it is generating serious RFI. This would be the same story if it were knocking out air traffic control communications or something similar. I am surprised that the communications regulator haven't confiscated the set for destruction.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: More to the point

          Not legally operated, but I suspect that until he is told about it, and unless he has modified it in some way (removing shielding) then the defense that it was legally bought and operated for n years would lead to him not being charged (negatively or positively Ba Boom Tish)

          1. John Doe 12

            Re: More to the point

            I wasn't implying that the owner of said TV was deliberately doing this - but certainly the law is very clear. However as someone else commented BT could have just bought them a new TV and taken the old one away for destruction just to make sure there is closure. After all if this person still is in possession of the set then they could theoretically turn it on if they wanted.

            1. Wellyboot Silver badge

              Re: More to the point

              Yes, the cheapest short term fix would have been monitor then just replace the old TV. Long term consequences would be "My broadband is iffy, give me a new telly" as opening line for complaints.

              Decades ago, for a problem like this, a chap1 from the nearest Post Office research station would have been dispatched and identified the issue2 within weeks of the problem being reported3.

              1 not too senior, maybe also a PFY bag carrier.

              2 just in case it was something new & worth looking at with possible practical value.

              3 Installing a new line to Mr. Dai Public in the valleys otoh may have taken 18 months to organize.

              1. Steve Graham

                Re: More to the point

                I joined the Post Office (trading as British Telecommunications) in 1981. Yes, it would have been a "chap" of the male gender.

                Times haven't changed much, but I have seen a female technician up a telegraph pole at least once.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: More to the point

                  is this code for something *snigger*

                2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: More to the point

                  " I have seen a female technician up a telegraph pole at least once."

                  Fnarr Fnarr!

                3. vogon00

                  Re: More to the point

                  Finding any OpenReach technician up a telegraph pole is an increasingly rare event.

                  OpenReach's in-the-field types are not permitted to climb a large majority of the installed poles for a variety of reasons, ranging from the poles being too old to be trusted with human weight, to having single phase (or very, very occasionally, 3-phase) power distribution cables attached, which is quite common in more rural East Anglia.

                  In once case a neighbour had an issue with their line. The OR engineer who attended (With all the 'working at height' PPE available) was forbidden to walk on my neighbours flat roof to reach the fault, presumably to avoid any liability for damage.

                  Having established the guy had been 'Clerk Of Works' in the past, the solution was for me to do the job 'Under Instruction' - me on the roof with my tools, him supervising from the top of the ladder. I still had to talk quite fast to get him to agree to this*, but common sense prevailed. The clincher was me saying "We agree the fault is 10ft away; it due to a fallen tree branch; you are not permitted to fix it; neither am I as is it is a wiring fault in BT** property since the fault it is on the network side of the NTE/Demarc. You are not permitted to work in the area by your employer, however I'm prepared to do the job under your supervision and assume the risk myself. My neighbour - your customer - is happy for me to do so."

                  Only thing I was pissed off about is that I had to use my jelly-crimps as he couldn't even pass me any from his van.

                  *There is little, if anything, that you can teach me about the characteristics of the UK PSTN's DEL or other 2,3 or 4 Wire line, with out without xDSL on the top :-) That said 'Every day is a school day' :-).

                  ** Before the split that officially divorced BT and OpenReach

              2. spold

                Re: More to the point

                ....wouldn't the cheapest short term fix have been to wrap it in tinfoil? Might have improved the quality of the programming as well.

                1. Falmari Silver badge
                  Joke

                  Re: More to the point

                  Cheapest fix would be to never turn it off. Well cheapest for everyone but the TV owner. ;)

            2. GlasshalfHull

              Re: More to the point

              When something similar happened in Hull, KCOM bought the owner a new TV and swapped it. I'm sure the owner was delighted, and the old TV is in the "Lighthouse" with other KCOM curiosities, as a discussion point for customers and visitors.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: More to the point

              I know of a similar case

              I used to work at a radio telescope that was plagued by interference from a part of the band that was protected.

              We sent a team out with antenna and spectrum analyser in a van to triangulate and found the house that was giving the problem. It was an old TV antenna booster amp that was oscillating. We bough them a new TV that did not need it and disposed of the offending article.They were happy with the better reception.

              If it amplifies it can oscillate.

              BTW it did not take 18 onths

        2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
          Meh

          Re: More to the point

          If the guy with the TV from hell is not charged, he should consider himself lucky.

          Years ago there was a (very) old lady using a wireless phone. While it worked perfectly it had developed a fault causing *massive* interference. Obviously she was completely unaware of this. She was charged a grand and actually had to pay.

          1. ICPurvis47
            Devil

            Re: More to the point

            We moved next door to an older couple, who were very nice at first. Then the old lady was made to retire from her job at the local school, and became very bitter. One day she complained (amongst other things) that we were causing interference to her television with our CB radio. We told her that we didn't have a CB radio, but that didn't make any difference. To punish us, she tuned a radio to a quiet station and placed it with the loudspeaker against the party wall with the volume turned up to 11, so that every ten minutes, we were subjected to a ten second roar of interference. One day her granddaughter remarked "What's that awful noise in your front room?" Her reply was "I have to put up with that 24 hours a day". My brother in law, an electronics engineer, brought a Radio Direction Finder round and plotted where the signal was coming from. It appeared to be coming from halfway along the wall in their front hall, so I informed her husband and son, but she didn't believe them, and continued to rant at us. One day, we received a visit from an inspector from the Environment Agency, apparently she had made an official complaint, and they had sent him round to remonstrate with us. He was very surprised to be cordially invited into our house and offered a cup of tea. I explained what was going on, and where the interference was being generated, and I demonstrated that, even with our incomer main switch switched off, and the house electrically dead, we were still getting the roaring noise every ten minutes, so it couldn't have been generated by anything we were doing. He went round and told her that she was breaking the law by having the radio so positioned, and made her disconnect it and remove it from the wall. He then told her that it was her thermostat that was the culprit, and he then left. We then heard her say in a very loud voice "You may have been able to pull the wool over his eyes, but you can't fool me". Some while later, while she was in town, her son surreptitiously replaced the thermostat with a new one, and the interference ceased. Her comment was "Thank goodness you've stopped using that %*&^%$ CB radio".

            1. Claverhouse Silver badge

              Re: More to the point

              How ghastly some people are...

              Congrats on putting up with her.

            2. AlbertH

              Re: More to the point

              I had a similar problem with a neighbour back in the 1950s. We had a neighbour whose TV was against the party wall, and because of his partial deafness, he invariably turned it up beyond 11 during the evening. No amount of imprecations from my Father or Mother would persuade him to move the set away from the party wall, so my Dad and his friend built TIT1 - Television Interrupting Tackle Version I. This was an RF oscillator that worked at (roughly) the same frequency as the local BBC Band 1 transmitter, and would beat with it, causing patterning on the picture and occasional loss of sound as the frequency of the valved oscillator drifted about. The apparatus was installed in a cupboard in my bedroom, in quite close proximity to next-door's TV aerial. Experiments had shown that the range of the thing was around 30 feet, so the other neighbours were unaffected.

              ITV then started, with their Band III signal, necessitating the construction of TIT2, which was a valved multivibrator that produced harmonics throughout Bands I and III! It had similar range to the first version, and was installed in the same cupboard. The havoc this wrought to next door's TV reception was amazing. As the volume of the TV was increased during the evening, the equipment was switched on, and the TV next door would be switched off after a few minutes!

              The neighbour complained to the GPO (responsible for interference problems in those days), and the visiting engineer suppressed the motors in my train set! He also had the sense to suggest to the neighbour that his TV would work better with his set-top aerial if it was relocated to the bay window, some distance from the party wall!!

          2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge

            Re: More to the point

            Just to be clear: nobody understood why she was punished, let alone like it. It was in the news an ended up being an epic anti-PR for those insisting on the punishment.

        3. Outer mongolian custard monster from outer space (honest)
          Joke

          Re: More to the point

          I think the communications regulators are too busy confiscating all the BT home hubs for their RFI noise spectrum pollution.

        4. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: More to the point

          "That TV is not legally operated!!! From what it sounds like it is in clear breach of the law as it is generating serious RFI. "

          Don't be a muppet. RFI limits were far more generous in the past and barely even existed back when valve TV sets were common so by law it has grandfather rights and is perfectly legal. Sounds like corners were cut on the openreach kit and they've only just found out.

          Let me guess - you think classic cars are illegal too because they don't have catalysts and particulate filters?

          1. John Doe 12

            Re: More to the point

            I call BS on you!!! At least until more sensible sounding arguments are presented :-) While name calling in the first 4 words of your response don't really get you off to a good start I do give you kudos for using a slang word that's very British (in that context) and that I don't hear any more since I moved many years ago to Ireland from the England ;-)

            I would comment that if this TV is as old as the hills then it's been in use for that long. The DSL system has presumably been there for a good few years also. Hence the TV has gone faulty and probably lost all grandfather rights it might have had. I mean by your argument you could take any piece of old kit, repurpose it and then claim grandfather rights.

            One thing you can be sure of is that if it was disrupting an air traffic control tower the set would be taken without any delay.

            1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

              Re: grandfather rights, repurposing old kit

              I counter-call your BS call. Surely grandfather rights only apply to something used for its original intended purpose. Repurposing would surely therefore void any grandfather rights.

              1. John Doe 12

                Re: grandfather rights, repurposing old kit

                Well then you are backing up my argument in a way. If the TV has deviated from the way it was manufactured (including by component failure) then it would lose the grandfather rights.

                1. werdsmith Silver badge

                  Re: grandfather rights, repurposing old kit

                  Even Radio Amateurs who cause local RFI are first warned and asked to get a balun. Nobody gets a fine straight off first ball.

            2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

              Re: More to the point

              And what of the broadband itself causing interference to short wave listeners? The few that are left, at least.

    2. Steve Crook

      Re: More to the point

      If that's all it takes to knock out broadband in the UK it should be possible to make a powerful unit, fit it to a van, and kill off large chunks of UK infrastructure in a fairly anonymous way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More to the point

        >If that's all it takes to knock out broadband in the UK it should be possible to make a powerful unit, fit it to a van

        My first thought - easily possible to run off any engine ad inf so no need for a conspicuous van - wardriving proper.

        A nice bit of 'how awesome are we PR' - though at 18-months I'm not sure - has just handed someone an excellent presentation for next year's DefCon which will now keep on giving.

    3. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

      Re: More to the point

      I have to admit that I find it difficult to believe that BT's broadband infrastructure to be knocked out by a burst of RF interference. I know that the overground wires are probably poorly or even unshielded, so act as an aerial , but RFI transmission field strength is proportional to the inverse-square of the distance.

      Unless the whole village's infrastructure goes through a pinch point just outside of the house, it should not be enough to disrupt ADSL (I suppose that if there was a microwave point to point link, this could be more easily disrupted, but there is not one mentioned).

      If they were talking about the WiFi being used to distribute the service around individual houses, then I might believe that could be easily disrupted,

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More to the point

        i thought this too, broadband and wifi seem to be interchangeable these days. Hardly a day goes by without someone posting on my village's FB page "is anyone else having problems with (vendor xyz's) wifi, meaning is anyone else having problems with (vendor xyz's) broadband connection.

        1. Martin-73

          Re: More to the point

          That utterly does my head in. "anyone else having trouble with virgin wifi?"

          No, because virgin don't supply wifi. They give you the kit that YOU use to generate the wifi signal with

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: More to the point

            And in spoken word rather than written or typed, there's the ones who pronounce, with great authority, that their "whiffy" is just fine. Like those rare souls years ago who said "stee-rio"

      2. Dog11
        Boffin

        Re: More to the point

        RFI transmission field strength is proportional to the inverse-square of the distance

        Only for a point source. One of the takeaways from my college physics class many years ago. A (infinite, but who's counting?) line source falls proportional to distance. A plane source doesn't fall off at all. In this case, if the RF is going out via a wire (mains, cable, telephone), it's a line source until it gets stopped by something (transformer, filter, whatever). Hard to direction find on, too.

        1. Peter Gathercole Silver badge

          Re: More to the point

          I take your point about this not necessarily being a point source, but I believe that old televisions have transformers and inductors pretty much all over the place, so I suspect that it would be unlikely to be on the power side of things. I suppose it could be on the input side of the aerial of the TV, with a back transmission from the tuner, but this would be unlikely as if it is a really old TV, it would have to have a set-top box for DVB Freeview (no analogue TV transmission any more), so I would be surprise if the TV was still directly connected to the antenna.

          If the TV was poorly earthed, then I suppose that the chassis could be acting as a transmitter, but not like an infinite plane.

          So I would suspect that it would approximate a point source, at least once you get a distance away from it.

      3. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: More to the point

        Yes. I find the entire explanation extremely far-fetched. Even if the telly emitted enough RF in a single short burst to disrupt a signal in a pair of copper wires on the other side of the village (which I should think would require MWs of power), surely the link would re-sync within a second or so, and normal TCP/IP error correction would mean that most people would not even notice the disruption.

      4. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: More to the point

        "

        If they were talking about the WiFi being used to distribute the service around individual houses, then I might believe that could be easily disrupted,

        "

        Even then, the strength of harmonics in any ancient TV that extend up above 2GHz are unlikely to be strong enough to interfere with anything more than a short distance away - and even if they are, the article states it was a brief powerup burst, which a WiFi system will tolerate with the user unlikely to notice. (Even if streaming a movie, the buffer should bridge a disruption of a second or two).

        1. Andy1

          Re: More to the point

          I used to knock around with a bunch of TV repair guys in the 1980s and they used to talk about chopper power supplies which put all sorts of junk back down the mains and the electricity companies hated them but there was no legislation to prevent this at the time. I would imagine this was the source of the problem as the burst of interference would have happened at a frequency of 50 or 100Hz, often enough to prevent any re-synch of the broadband connection.

    4. macjules Silver badge

      Re: More to the point

      Also what is a "crack squad of engineers"? Hyper-elite engineers who have experience of any and every form of outage? If they have these engineers then why can they not fix OpenRetch broadband in Holland Park?

      1. 2+2=5 Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: More to the point

        > Also what is a "crack squad of engineers"?

        These are the ones with loose trousers and short t-shirts. You often see them peering into holes.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Joke

    I bet the TV owner is feeling pretty sheepish!

    1. jake Silver badge

      Baa! Just HAD to ram that joke home, didn't ewe?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        No pulling the wool over your eyes...

        1. 2+2=5 Silver badge

          Was the interference in the Ewe-HF band?

          1. Snar

            Probably needed a baa-nd pass filter.

    2. Korev Silver badge
      Joke

      I bet the owner of the TV got fleeced...

  8. Dippywood

    Stereotype Time

    Openreach engineer, Michael Jones -> Openreach engineer, Jones the Broadband.

  9. vonBureck
    Trollface

    MR SHINE, HIM DIAMOND

    Now where's my Sir Pterry icon? Oh well, this will do...

    1. Zimmer
      Go

      Re: MR SHINE, HIM DIAMOND

      ..cease and desist with the Trolling...

      1. Trubbs

        Re: MR SHINE, HIM DIAMOND

        That's just crazy

  10. Gomez Adams

    Surely checking for interference should have been done *before* spending loadsa money on replacing cables? Standard basic checking. Was this the kind of interference that can be detected by anyone using an AM radio?

    1. jake Silver badge

      The trouble is ...

      ... they don't teach kids the basics anymore.

    2. GlenP Silver badge

      I would agree, particularly as it seems the disconnections were happening on a regular pattern.

      If something happens at the same time every day cables are not going to be the primary source of the problem although they may contribute.

      Years ago we had a similar problem with a customer, strangely as soon as we put a monitor on the mains supply the problem went away. We never did find which piece of equipment, after several months of complaints, he realised was causing the problem.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Up here in rural Northern California it's almost always a bad capacitor on a well pump causing the issue. I don't know how many I've replaced for friends & family over the years after $TELCO couldn't figure out why POTS/ISDN/DSL kept crapping out at odd times ... Probably on the order of four or five dozen.

        1. Chris G Silver badge

          I had a girlfriend who lived near Grass Valley, she had zero problems with the well pump but she and her two neighbours had recurring problems that turned out to be the huge pool pump motor at the house across the road.

          We messed around testing everything until we noticed the problem started and stopped with the water flow in the pool.

          The pool wasn't that big but on a filtration cycle you vould damn near surf on it.

    3. FordPrefect

      Well I'd guess this can't be a very common problem otherwise it would probably happen far more frequently and every engineer would be trained to look for this first. In every diagnostic field you always get that problem that crops up once every 10 years do you test for it every time, or do you attempt the fixes that work the other 9,999 times out of 10,000 ?

      1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        While I get testing the obvious stuff first, if that doesn't work you then move on to the unlikely-but-cheap tests. Turning on an AM radio at 7am and listening for a hum (or given it took out a whole village, standing well back and waiting for smoke to come out) is cheap.

        1. simbr

          It would be a last resort, but I certainly have asked (back in my ADSL tech days) “do you happen to have an AM radio...”

          It’s not even the first time someone else’s old TV has caused this problem: https://forum.kitz.co.uk/index.php/topic,1550.msg53496.html#msg53496

  11. Martin Summers Silver badge

    If anything makes the case for Fibre this is probably it. I wonder if they spent more on the investigation and engineers than they would have putting fibre in. I do think it's unfair to blame the TVs owner for what is essentially an invisible problem. It'd have been nice to know that BT in the relief they didn't have to spend any more trying to fix the problem, had just bought them a new TV rather than them feeling mortified and embarrassed (according to the BBC article).

  12. Ian Court

    One would expect

    that the Openreach kit should be able to cope, come REIN or SHINE. Apparently not.

    1. Juan Inamillion
      Pint

      Re: One would expect

      Do have a

  13. Peter Clarke 1
    Mushroom

    Another Source of Interference

    So what happens to the badly shielded equipment in a thunderstorm (or other EM pulse)???

    1. Jess--

      Re: Another Source of Interference

      around here all the fttc connections fall over with the first flash within 5 miles from a thunderstorm.

      it then takes 4 minutes with no further strikes to reconnect.

      since a decent storm could take us offline for hours at a time we added a 4g dongle to the router as a failover, now we only notice if the fttc connection is down by the increased speed of the 4g connection.

  14. JohnKelly

    What on earth is a tellie? No-one I know would spell itlike that.

    1. MiguelC Silver badge
      Facepalm

      News for you: the world doesn't end where you stop having acquaintances

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

        No. He's right. It's telly. Spelled like Kelly.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
            Headmaster

            Spelt!

            What's low gluten flower got to do with this discussion? I suppose that does go in one's bellie, if eaten while watching tellie and wearing one wellie...

            I've just looked it up though, to confirm what I suspected. I've never liked the sound of spelt - although I'm fine with dealt - I prefer the sound of spelled. As with so many Americanisms - spelled is actually perfectly valid in english. Similarly if you look in your OED you'll find that specialised and specialized are both correct. The same being true for spelled and spelt.

            As with so many of these things, english changed in the intervening years in ways that just didn't catch on in the USA. But the US usage was often standard back in Shakespeare's time. Some of this is just the natural evolution of language, and some of it is the Victorians creating rules, either in order to try to make the language conform to rules (fat chance!) - or so they could have people to look down on. The split infinitive is an example of one of these Victorian inventions, that is mostly best ignored.

            1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
              Facepalm

              Oh noes! Flower? Flour. Bugger!

              1. jake Silver badge

                "Flour. Bugger!"

                No, no, no ... You put flour in your bowl, not your bowel ...

                Unless you're into that kind of thing, of course. Who am I to judge.

              2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                "Oh noes! Flower? Flour. Bugger!"

                I Was At The Reading Station.

                Was I reading a book or waiting for a train in a town in Berkshire?

            2. Patched Out

              What does the sex organ of a plant have to do with anything? I think you must mean "low gluten flour".

              Muphry's Law and all that ...

              Edit: Ah, beat me to the punch against your own post!

            3. jake Silver badge

              "The split infinitive is an example of one of these Victorian inventions, that is mostly best ignored."

              Mostly?

          2. Stuart Moore
            Thumb Up

            I suspect...

            Spelt!

            was intended to raise a rye smile. I couldn't prove it dough.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: I suspect...

              Wheat are you talking about? I can barley farro your train of thought.

              This could get corny, I think I'll quit before I get any flax ...

              1. Dan 55 Silver badge

                Re: I suspect...

                This thread is a maize of puns.

                1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

                  Re: I suspect...

                  Yes, once it's been seeded they tend to come in batches.

      2. JohnKelly

        Terribly sorry - I really should have been clearer and justified absolutely every word in that sentence. I also used that google search thing just in case I'd missed something over lockdown and things had changed. The world does not end with my friends, you are right there, which is why I checked. If only everyone checked everything they did and then corrected it the world would be a lovely place with no need for smarmy comments.

        After an extensive internet search on the word tellie I got the following.

        tellie

        Tellie...a constantly evolving and ever changing group of friends that know the true meaning of love...

        and

        tellie

        a tellie is the most amazing couple you can find they always have something to talk about and always have inside jokes like a rusty sippy cup but, overall they would be the couple to get married when they are older. they are also a weird couple to handle cause they have their goofy moments at times but they have great bonding skills

        and also

        https://www.tellie.tv/

        Then I got bored

    2. GrumpenKraut Silver badge
      Trollface

      > No-one I know would spell it like that.

      You are wrong, JohnKellie

      1. JohnKelly

        Well since they've corrected it then obviously not. Actually since it's a story about Wales then they should have used teledu but that's just being picky.

        1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

          Don't forget to email us if you spot anything wrong -- corrections@theregister.com ta

          It was fixed from tellie to telly rather quickly.

          C.

  15. Tweetiepooh

    We still use a CRT television

    as our main set but it's only 15 years old, fits nicely into where we want it and it still works fine. As devices no longer have SCART outputs we may need to change at some point but it seems that anything with a good picture and sound is going to be huge (comparatively). Ours is 28" and that's OK, good speakers too.

    Really can't see point in changing stuff unless really need to - dishwasher and gas oven are both 15 years old and work fine (I can't use induction stove), washing machine is 22 years old. (It's a great way to get rid of the appliance cover sales folk with great offers to cover appliances - tell them how old your stuff is they go away).

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: We still use a CRT television

      The only TV in this house is a 32" Sony Trinitron, bought new by me in 1988. Works fine for our needs.

      1. Chris G Silver badge

        Re: We still use a CRT television

        32" Sony Trinitron

        Those things have probably caused more hernias and back strains than moving washing machines, built to last and a bugger to move if it doesn't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We still use a CRT television

      >dishwasher and gas oven are both 15 years old and work fine (I can't use induction stove), washing machine is 22 years old. (It's a great way to get rid of the appliance cover sales folk with great offers to cover appliances - tell them how old your stuff is they go away).

      Back in May my wife put our white goods on 1 year appliance cover - all 17+ years old...

      Today I've taken delivery of a new dishwasher, last week it was the tumble drier... So far £800+ of white goods for a £200 outlay. Only downside is that I don't expect the replacements to last as long as the originals as neither have a 10 year manufacturers guarantee.

      FYI, many of the appliance cover sales calls are scammers, from the few I've spoken to, I suspect the major (legit) appliance cover providers have suffered data leaks...

      1. Dante Alighieri
        Joke

        IBM

        for longevity

        No one is sacked for using IBM : I Buy Miele

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: We still use a CRT television

        "FYI, many of the appliance cover sales calls are scammers, from the few I've spoken to, I suspect the major (legit) appliance cover providers have suffered data leaks..."

        They have. Or the chancers are getting better. When they call me, if they have the correct make of whatever, I always tell them I don't have that whatever any more and the new one is $some_other_make. Within a few weeks I'll get a call about my $some_other_make whatever. Then I rinse and repeat. Strangely, I've not had any of those calls for over a year now!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We still use a CRT television

      trouble is you'll probably find the washing machine uses about half a swimming pool of water and takes another reactor to be turned on at sellafield to provide the electric for you to wash 2 pairs of sockets and a pair of trollies! We have a new miele dishwasher and it washes a full load of dishes fantastically well all on 6l of water and 1.5kw of go juice!

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: We still use a CRT television

        At existing rates, it would take me approximately 20 years to save the cost of the new dishwasher in water and leccy. The new machine won't last twenty years. In fact, I'd be astonished if it made it eight. My old one will still be in operation forty years from now. Do the math,

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We still use a CRT television

      you're missing out, we bought an induction hob when we move in to our renovated house 9 years ago. I was only saying to the misses last week that it looks the same as it did when we bought it it still looks brand new! They are soooooo easy to clean, safe (we have 4 cats and our daughter is now 8) as they don't get hot to the touch, and it is very economical. With prices pretty low these day its a no brainer, probably the best thing we've bought!

    5. cipnt

      Re: We still use a CRT television

      While it may be true that they don't make them like they used to, some of these appliances have had years of improvements in efficiency.

      Help save the planet by getting a new one that probably uses half the energy, water, etc

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: We still use a CRT television

        "Help save the planet by getting a new one that probably uses half the energy, water, etc"

        I have used this one unit for 32 years now. In that time, how many similar units have you used to provide the same function, at what total cost to the environment?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We still use a CRT television

        >Help save the planet by getting a new one that probably uses half the energy, water, etc

        Energy efficiency/Green appliances aren't necessarily all they are cracked up to be and appropriate in all circumstances.

        For example,

        My 2002 tumble dryer manufacturer's specification gives an energy consumption of 4.37kWh and a programme time of 90mins (6kg cotton/linen, store dry)

        Its 2019 (curent model) replcement gives a figure of 4.21kWh and 121mins for the same program.

        The figures for the heat pump equivalent to the 2019 model are 2.29kWh and 174mins

        Whilst the heat pump version uses less energy the 2002 model can complete twice the number of loads in the same elapse time - something that is important to consider when you are doing the weekly family wash which can be 4~6 loads, being done back-to-back.

        If I look at the long-term reliability and maintainability then the heat pump is the worst of the lot; there is not only more to go wrong, but if something does go wrong it is more likely to be expensive - involving both a trained engineer and more of their time.

        FYI, the 2002 tumble dryer was written off because a circa £85 heater (user installable) was no longer available from the parts providers used by the insurer. I suggest given the above information, the most environmentally-friendly solution was the replacement of a single part on the 2002 dryer...

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We still use a CRT television

        >Help save the planet by getting a new one that probably uses half the energy, water, etc

        Part 2.

        Comparing the 2004 dishwasher with the 2019/2020 variant, provides even less comfort. Here there is no real difference between them on the Eco and Quick settings, the differences are in the Intensive programme, where the new model uses 15 ltrs of water, 1,500kWh and runs for 3:30 (hh:mm), whereas the old model 20 ltrs, 1,600kWh and 1:52 (hh:mm).

        In this case the old one failed due to a water leak on to an IC which is no longer available. So once again complete new machine needed to fix a single failed component.

        Yes, I know I'm comparing machines that originally came with a 10 year manufacturers warranty with new ones with 2 year warranty's, but as you can see the energy and water efficiency advances haven't been as much as we are being led to believe and they come with the cost of significantly longer programmes.

  16. steamnut

    How far?

    Assuming that this TV is emitting some spurious radiation then I assume it predates EMC testing. If that is the case then it would not be a digital TV, although it could have an external converter. Even if the TV is the real cause then just how close was this TV to the BT cables? As the inverse square law drops the signal level by the square of the distance then the cable must has been very, very close to have this affect.

    Alternatively, the BT equipment is not EMC compliant in regard to susceptibility. If that is the case then almost any equipment in that village will knock the system out. Which leads me to my final comment; why didn't the equipment recover after each 7am spike?

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: How far?

      We don't know from the article how long each outage was.

  17. druck Silver badge
    Happy

    Whip-round

    I hope the village is having a whip-round to buy a nice new low noise LCD TV for owner of the old set, otherwise tomorrow morning...

  18. Mage Silver badge
    Devil

    Ha!

    I HAVE a Spectrum Analyser.

    I reported the new TV next door to the Regulator (Comreg). It took them over a year to do anything.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
      Happy

      Re: Ha!

      So what. I have a Spectrum 48k.

      1. Alister

        Re: Ha!

        Pah, I have a Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Ha!

          That's nothing. I have had a free subscription to the IEEE Spectrum magazine since the early 1970s;

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: Ha!

          MY spectrum is green!

  19. Grease Monkey Silver badge

    I remember when Openreach had a REIN team who I'm pretty sure were based in Swansea. Don't know if they still exist but there is definitely a process for engineers to submit a REIN case.

    REIN, SHINE and PEIN are, while not exactly common, something that every SFI engineer should be aware of and as such I don't understand why this took so long.

    I remember a case only a couple of years ago where the third engineer to be booked for a job didn't even bother to get out of his van outside the customer premises. From the notes of the first two engineers he suspected the cause to be electrical impulse noise so the first thig he did on arrival was tune his van radio to 612KHz (any experienced engineer knows that particular trick) and said he could hear the interference so strongly that there was no point him even leaving his van.

    Where it all went wrong there was that a case was raised to the REIN team who brought down their clever analyzers and found the building from which the offending electromagnetic forces eminated which is all good, but the occupants of said building refused them access. In law unfortunately the engineers have absolutely no enforcement powers. Numerous letters from Openreach had no effect.

    Unfortunately the government decided at some point that it would be a sensible idea to put the BBC in charge of enforcing cases of radio frequency interference. There are two problems here. Firstly the BBC has few teeth to enforce such things. Secondly the BBC really don't care if something is interfering with broadband services they only care if it is interfering with radio or television reception. The upshot being that the BBC have no will to use the few teeth that they have.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      i wonder if the people effected could take an action in tort for nuisance caused?

      1. Colin Miller

        OFCOM

        Don't OFCOM take a dim view of electronic equipment emitting stray RF signals, to the detriment of other people in the area? IIRC, OFCOM can get a court warrent to check the equipment, and possibly seize it

        1. Martin-73

          Re: OFCOM

          Maybe a couple of decades ago. These days they don't give a monkey's. People calling from easily identifiable UK companies despite the TPS list?... they don't care. BT themselves supplying 'wifi extender plugs' that can wipe out shortwave for hundreds of yards... they won't do bugger all :(

    2. Roger Greenwood

      "Unfortunately the government decided at some point that it would be a sensible idea to put the BBC in charge of enforcing cases of radio frequency interference."

      I didn't know that! Last I knew (wireless telegraphy act from decades ago) they had virtually unlimited rights of entry but would usually call the cops before they broke the door down, mainly to protect themselves from irate owners. They didn't need a warrant in those days.

    3. 96percentchimp

      Pretty sure RFI outside of BBC broadcast bands is enforced by Ofcom.

      Circa 2012, while working in a small the central London office with poor mobile signal, had a visit from Ofcom bods following interference reports from network operators. Turned out a sales type had plugged in a dodgy mobile signal booster, though I think any improvement to his signal was a placebo effect. Ofcom bods were happy to take it away instead of taking legal action.

  20. George Spiggott

    An excellent argument for FTTP, it doesn't suffer from RFI.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just how old is this telly? They turned off the analogue tv signal in 2012, did he just not notice, and keep turning the telly on every morning?

    1. JDPower Bronze badge

      Old TVs don't just stop working without an analogue signal.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The same crap still being shown...

  22. MOH

    It was probably less the old TV than the unexploded penguin on top of it.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  23. heyrick Silver badge

    an AM radio can detect SHINE-emitting kit

    Like all those smart meters spewing their periodic data up the line to the gizmo that collects the information and sends it to the provider via the mobile network...

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

  24. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Makes a change

    It's usually ADSL causing problems for Amateur Radio operators

    1. Soruk

      Re: Makes a change

      Network over Mains kit tends to annoy them quite a lot too.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not REIN but atmospherics. Back in the mid 90's i worked in a ship yard in Falmouth. Summer 95 was lovely, hot, sunny, no wind, flat calm seas. Trouble was these conditions were just right for telly's in Falmouth to pick up bloody French TV from the North coast of France, trying to watch telly you had this bloody ghosting of French TV in the background!

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    congrats !

    Congrats to Openreach for this !

    You guys in the UK can't complain no more about your providers TBH.

    I had my cables fell over on 300 meters at home and there was no way Orange would even send anyone !

  27. fidodogbreath Silver badge

    Similar thing happened near me

    Some guy's homebrew IoT security system took out all of his neighbor's key fobs and garage door openers in a several-block radius.

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Similar thing happened near me

      From the linked article: The cause was a custom, man-made device inside a resident’s home

      I'd have been inclined to word it as, perhaps, "a custom device built by an electronics enthusiast" or something... Or does Cleveland suffer from devices built by, oh I dunno, extra-terrestrial waterfowl?

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: Similar thing happened near me

        Maybe they are inferring that a woman-made device would not have been so crap?

  28. Tubz
    Devil

    If I was the owner, I'd expect BT to buy me a new shiny 60in 8K Smart TV or I switch it back on. :D

  29. Bibbit

    Analogue killed the digital star.

    Could be a song in that.

  30. Enger

    DSL is shit.

    If OFCOM forced BT and other providers to install real FTTH, this ridiculous nonsense wouldn't occur.

    And double indictment for taking 18-months to get an engineer out there with spectrum monitoring equipment. (The cable replacement program should have been Fiber all the way to the home. OFCOM suffers regulatory capture, just like the US FCC.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Forced them to install ... have you seen the price estimates for doing that?!

  31. Max Quordlepleen

    Oh no, not again

    Oh my goodness. Somehow why am I not supprized, and why… because the exact same thing happened in my street. Not in a sparse Welsh hamlet but in a dense town near Reading.

    How can it take so long to find it out when an AM radio (or perhaps something a little more sensitive and directional) can track it down and maybe a spectrum analyser on the phone line etc.

    The internet would go off at 8am and come back at 10pm. Oh and DAB radio and… It impacted the whole street but when you speak to BT/OpenReach they don’t share that so you don’t know that the guy at the end of the street who is an IT professional working from home is now working nights!

    In the end, and I mean, in the end, they finally sent out someone who did not just want to change the master socket and with the right kit and I got a phone call which went something like (him) “I’m not coming today” (me) “what! I’ve taken the morning off work!” (him) “I think I’ve finally tracked it down, will you run some tests for me”. Long story short he had found the old lady who’s equally old CRT TV had failed which she switched on at 8am and… turned off at 10pm. I guess the line flyback transformer was breaking down or something. He asked her to switch it off for the test and the internet came back. Apparently she said “OK but only for a minute, I’m not missing Deal Or No Deal.”.

    A few minutes later I met the engineer and also the IT professional followed by the old lady. At least some sanity regarding us not being made aware of each other prevailed and myself and the IT pro said we would buy her a new TV as she did not really have the means.

    They took the old TV for analysis and said they would bring it back when finished. We respectfully told them to please *%$^(: drop it out of the 8th floor window instead.

  32. Dixx

    Competence is an issue

    The fact Openreach SHITE noise all over the HF Spectrum nationally from poorly configured VDSL services deserved more coverage. OFCOM can't see what harm it does despite HF spectrum users investing significant dosh in equipment that don't work no more. Bloody shambles.

  33. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    TV Detector Van

    Openreach should procure one of the fabled TV Detector Vans of old from Aunty Beeb/Crapita and then drive around the streets,,,

  34. FlavioStanchina

    this is pretty good On Call material!

    Quick, find the engineers involved and have them write a story for On Call!

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