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Peasmarsh Parish Council submitted a letter to BT Openreach High Level Complaints regarding the continuing problems with telephone and internet connections in Peasmarsh on 5th October 2016.  BT responded on 1st November 2016 and promised to undertake a full review into the network from the exchange at Rye to Peasmarsh (see letters below).   BT has now successfully completed the programme of work to upgrade the exchange and have confirmed this in a letter published below:

6th February 2017

Dear Mr Pankhurst,

I can confirm that the problems at the exchange at Rye were resolved at the end of 2016, as anticipated.  This has brought the exchange and network fully up to standard. 

We are not aware of any issues in the Peasmarsh area, but if any residents are experiencing problems with their telephone or broadband service, they will need to raise this to their Service Providers.  All Providers have dedicated contact routes into Openreach if they require any assistance.  This will allow us to investigate and resolve any issues with the network that may be identified.

Kind regards

Graeme

Graeme Hughes
Customer Resolutions - Openreach High Level Complaints 
Openreach
Web: www.openreach.co.uk

 

1st November 2016

Dear Mr Pankhurst,

Thank you for your letter.  

I can confirm that we have completed a full review into the network from the exchange at Rye, to Peasmarsh.  I'm sorry this has taken so long.  It's been a full, in depth review of the network which regrettably took longer than we hoped.  Our findings are that the problem lies at the exchange.

Firstly our investigations could find no issues with the cabling and associated street furniture (such as poles and cabinets) within the field.  Each cable and joint has been checked and tested and are all showing as up to standard, with no underlying issues.  The fault volumes on the network are below the national average, which again shows that no issues are within our network.

However, we have carried out further checks with specialised engineers which have found connection problems with some of the equipment within the exchange.  This we believe is causing the intermittent problems experienced within Peasmarsh, as it can affect many lines in an area served from the exchange.

I can assure you that the matter is now being addressed.  It does require a significant amount of work and we estimate this to be completed by the end of December.  We will of course try to complete this sooner where possible.

I'm sorry again for the time taken to identify the issue and the problems experienced by residents in Peasmarsh, but I do hope the above helps to assure you that this is being resolved.  If any residents do have any problems with their phone or broadband service, they will need to contact their Communications Provider.  If you have any further queries regarding this issue, please let me know and I will be happy to help

Kind regards

Graeme Hughes
Customer Resolutions - Openreach High Level Complaints 
Openreach
Web: www.openreach.co.uk

 

5th October 2016

Mr Graeme Hughes
Openreach High Level Complaints
BT PLC, Correspondence Centre, Durham DH98 1BT

Dear Mr Hughes,

As Chairman of Peasmarsh Parish Council I am writing on behalf of the residents of Peasmarsh regarding problems with crackling phones and sporadic disconnection from the broadband service to the village. 

Despite an assurance from yourself in October 2015 and February 2016 (see attached) following a review of the network in the village that there were no underlying problems we now - after an initial period when the issue of crackling phones seemed to have been resolved - have phones which have once more begun to crackle. 

I know these are not isolated instances as I experienced it quite recently whilst, ironically, talking to BT regarding renewing my phone and broadband packages. The crackling throughout the call was at times so bad that both myself and the BT adviser had to repeat ourselves and at the end of the call the adviser thought it so bad I was transferred to the fault handling department. 

Detailed below are two conversations I recently had with residents regarding crackling phones and how the problem was resolved in both cases:

1. Resident reported a crackling phone and it was only through the diligence and determination of the engineer and the residents insistence that his phone was not the source of the problem that the cause of the crackling was eventually traced back to the telephone exchange and the problem resolved 

2. Successive BT engineers had visited another resident and not been able to solve the problem, BT agreed to send an advanced engineer who went back to the exchange to check the problem.  Apparently there are three bundles of cables for Peasmarsh telephones, each containing 100 pairs of cables which are gradually deteriorating.  Fortunately the engineer was able to swap the pair of cables to the house to another bundle which was in a better condition and as a result the phone line no longer crackles.  However, the engineer did have to reset the broadband connection because the cabling had been re-routed and as a result the broadband connection is now working properly. The engineer also stated that BT will not be replacing the deteriorating cables until they have all broken down. 

Residents all too often say that they are reluctant to report the problem as it is BT policy to charge for engineer visits if no fault can be found. As the crackling is an intermittent problem there is every chance that at the time of an engineer visit there may indeed not be any crackling. 

Unfortunately not all engineers are as diligent or residents as forceful as the examples quoted above and as a result no fault is found and a charge incurred for the callout. I am also aware that a number of residents are presently in dispute with BT regarding these charges. 

Regarding the broadband service a large number of residents, including myself, have over the past few weeks been experiencing repeated disconnection from the broadband service whereby the hub goes into recovery mode without any intervention by the user.  

The problem at times is compounded by the hub continually going into recovery mode once a connection has been re-established thus making it virtually impossible to do any online work. 

Many residents have experienced this problem irrespective of the BT broadband package they are on and whilst the problem seems to have abated, for the moment, we would seek an assurance that this will not become another recurring issue, as is the case with the crackling phones, and also as to why it occurred in the first place.

There seems little point in East Sussex County Council investing millions of pounds of council tax payers money in upgrading the fibre optic network to find that this is all for nought due to old and outdated equipment at the local exchanges simply because BT is not prepared to make the same sort of commitment and invest in upgrading your ageing exchanges.  

Our residents are becoming extremely frustrated and angry by what they perceive as a laissez-faire attitude by BT in addressing what are clearly problems with either the network or exchange in Peasmarsh and such is the level of anger that the Parish Council is being pressed by the residents to make an official complaint to Ofcom in the hope that this may force BT to take the problems seriously.   

However, before contacting Ofcom and in a spirit of goodwill I would ask you to consider the points below as a way forward in resolving these problems amicably. 

1.  A senior engineer to carry out a full review of the Peasmarsh exchange to ascertain the extent of the deterioration in the three bundles of cables mentioned above and report on their condition and also the overall state of the exchange 

2. If there are a significant number of cables that have or are approaching a point at which the deterioration will become a problem that a plan be presented for their replacement and a timetable for the work to be carried out 

3. An assurance that the Peasmarsh exchange is fit for purpose now and the foreseeable future 

4. A period of time and contact point to allow Peasmarsh residents to report faults without being charged for visits 

5. The period of time for fault reporting to be mutually agreed between BT and Peasmarsh Parish Council 

6. That, as a gesture of goodwill, BT waive the callout charges currently being disputed by a number of residents     

Clearly it would be unreasonable to expect you to respond immediately but I do feel that there should not be a long delay and would, therefore, ask you to come back to us with concrete proposals as to how we may take this forward both in the interests of our residents and BT. 

Our next parish council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 1st November and would ask that you reply no later than Friday 28th October 2016.   

Yours sincerely, 

David Pankhurst 

Chairman, Peasmarsh Parish Council