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BT broadband users hit by second UK-wide outage in two days

Power supply issues at Docklands datacentre could be behind loss of internet access for more than 5,500 BT broadband users

The BT broadband network has gone down in parts of the UK for the second time in two days.

According to reports on social media, BT broadband users said the problems started at around 7am on Thursday 21 July, while the company confirmed on Twitter that it is investigating the cause of today’s problems.

“Sorry if you’re unable to access some websites this morning on BT broadband,” the tweet said. “We are investigating the cause and will update you all soon.”

The DownDetector website, which invites web users to report downtime instances across a wide range of online services, reveals that more than 5,500 users have experienced problems with BT broadband this morning.

The company’s service status page revealed details of how the problem is affecting internet across the UK, with many expressing disappointment that BT’s broadband services are experiencing technical difficulties for the second time in two days.

As reported by Computer Weekly, the company’s broadband users were left unable to access the internet for several hours on the morning of Wednesday 20 July, following a power outage at Equinix’s Docklands-based datacentre, confirmed by the London Internet Exchange (LINX).

A Facebook post by telecoms service provider United Networks claims power supply issues at a different datacentre in Docklands, operated by Telehouse, may be behind today’s outage. 

“Issues with BT Core NAP interconnects in Telehouse North are affecting all IP call services this morning. BT engineers are on site to resolve,” the post read. 

Computer Weekly contacted Telehouse for comment on this story, who confirmed a tripped circuit breaker at Telehouse North has "affected a specific and limited group of customers" within its premises.

"The problem has been investigated and the solution identified. Our engineers are working with our customers on the resolution right now. We will release updates in due course."

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However, a BT spokesperson confirmed that today’s outage is linked to a “substantial power failure” in the Docklands area.

“One of our internet connection partners in Docklands has suffered a substantial power failure,” the spokesperson said. “This is affecting BT and other providers. We are redirecting traffic to reduce the impact on customers. Engineers are on site and are fixing the problem.”

Given that the outages have occurred when most people are logging on for the day to start work, a lot of the social media complaints are coming from customers demanding to be compensated for loss of earnings and productivity.

Alex Neill, director of policy and campaigns at consumer advice site Which?, said BT customers were right to demand to be reimbursed for any inconvenience the connectivity issues have caused.

“Many people now view broadband as an essential service, so it is only right that consumers are automatically compensated when their service is lost, as it has been for many BT customers,” he said.

“The government must push forward with the Digital Economy Bill to give broadband customers this right as soon as possible.”

The outage comes hot on the heels of a damning report by parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport Committee that accused BT of under-investing in its infrastructure division, Openreach, before calling out the organisation’s chequered track record on service delivery.

Read more on Datacentre backup power and power distribution

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How did we manage to build a system that requires redirecting in the event of a point failure out of a system designed to be resilient to just that kind of issue?
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As orcamediauk says - what happened to the much vaunted resilience of the Internet? The answer is that most of it runs over a hotchpotch of 20th communications networks which come together in peering centres - and in the case of the UK - one peering centre. Hence the need to diversify peering from London to a network of local "Internet Exchanges" at the same time as improving competition between backhaul supplier who do not share the same single points of failure.
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